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Jan 27, 2013

Napoli slashes Juve's lead to 3 points

Edinson Cavani scored the winner in the 85th minute to give surging Napoli a 2-1 win at Parma, helping his team move within three points of leader Juventus, which was held to a 1-1 draw by Genoa on Saturday.

Napoli is chasing its first title since Diego Maradona led the southern club to Serie A championships in 1987 and 1990.

"It's true we're right there, but we're not thinking about it," Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri said. "We still want to improve and we're only thinking about the next match. The victory is important only for our self-confidence. I'm not interested in any other discussion."

It's been an up-and-down season for the club with some of Italy's most passionate fans.

In December, Napoli was penalized two points for match-fixing after its former goalkeeper, Matteo Gianello, confessed to attempting to fix the result of a game with Sampdoria three seasons ago. But the penalty was lifted on appeal earlier this month, as were bans imposed on club captain Paolo Cannavaro and defender Gianluca Grava.

This was the first match back for both players.

Marek Hamsik put Napoli ahead 20 minutes in at the Ennio Tardini stadium, using one touch to redirect a pass from Blerim Dzemaili. At the start of the second half, Parma took the momentum and equalized when Cannavaro deflected in a cross from Parma's Nicola Sansone in the 75th for an own goal.

Ten minutes later, Naples-born Lorenzo Insigne provided a perfect through ball for Cavani, who dribbled around the goalkeeper for his league-leading 18th goal of the season, thus snapping Parma's 15-match unbeaten streak at home.

After slumping in November and most of December, Napoli has gone unbeaten in its last five matches and is looking more and more like a legitimate title threat as it approaches a home match with Juventus on March 1.

"The title race hasn't been reopened nor was it ever closed," Cannavaro said. "The important thing is being in there.

In the late match, Torino held fourth-place Inter Milan to a 2-2 draw at the San Siro.

Christian Chivu gave Inter the lead in fifth with a free kick but then had to exit with an apparent injury in the 28th.

Riccardo Meggiorini scored twice, in the 23rd and 52nd, and Esteban Cambiasso equalized for Inter in the 67th by redirecting a cross from 39-year-old captain Javier Zanetti.

Inter trails Juve by nine points.

Earlier, AC Milan beat 10-man Atalanta 1-0 with a 29th-minute strike from 20-year-old Stephen El Shaarawy, who has 15 goals to stand second on the scoring chart behind Cavani.

Atalanta's Davide Brivio picked up his second yellow card in the 59th for a foul on Giampaolo Pazzini.

Milan is fifth, 12 points back.

In other matches, Argentine forward Mauro Icardi scored four goals as Sampdoria routed Pescara 6-0; Cagliari drew 1-1 with Palermo 1; and Udinese beat last-place Siena 1-0.

While most of his goals Sunday were facilitated by Pescara's porous defense, the 19-year-old Icardi also scored twice against Juventus earlier this season and his pedigree is rising fast.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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