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Napoli boosted by Lavezzi's new appetite for goals

Published: Monday 27 February 2012, 9.21CET
A week ago, Ezequiel Lavezzi came in for criticism about his scoring record but key strikes against Chelsea FC and FC Internazionale Milano have seen him answer back in style.
by Paolo Menicucci
from Milan
Napoli boosted by Lavezzi's new appetite for goals
Napoli striker Ezequiel Lavezzi has had a week to remember ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 27 February 2012, 9.21CET

Napoli boosted by Lavezzi's new appetite for goals

A week ago, Ezequiel Lavezzi came in for criticism about his scoring record but key strikes against Chelsea FC and FC Internazionale Milano have seen him answer back in style.

After scoring twice in a 3-1 UEFA Champions League win against Chelsea FC last Tuesday, Ezequiel Lavezzi completed a dream week by hitting the only goal in SSC Napoli's contest with FC Internazionale Milano, leaving coach Walter Mazzarri purring over his forward's "watershed moment".

He's made giant steps and is now scoring more frequently. He is more mature
Walter Mazzarri on Ezequiel Lavezzi
I don't think I have changed anything in the way I play, I just know that I have to score more often and I'm working hard in training to finish better when I have chances
Lavezzi

Having never reached ten goals in a Serie A season since joining Napoli in 2007, Lavezzi's scoring record came under the microscope in the lead-up to the Chelsea game but he responded to any criticism with his display in the round of 16 first leg. The Argentinian international was at it again on Sunday, a superb one-touch finish giving Napoli all three points despite Salvatore Aronica's dismissal. Mazzarri's men now sit fifth, five points from third-placed duo S.S. Lazio and Udinese Calcio, and four above a free-falling Inter.

"I'm very happy for Lavezzi," Mazzarri said. "I know 'Il Pocho' (the chubby one) has always been an extremely important part of this team but I think this was his watershed moment. He's made giant steps and is now scoring more frequently. He is more mature; if he keeps improving like this, there won't be many players better than him because his ability in dribbling past opponents and creating chances for his team-mates will always be there."

Meanwhile the 26-year-old former CA San Lorenzo forward had a specific explanation to his newfound golden touch in front of goal. "My son [seven-year-old Thomas, who lives in Argentina] was here in Naples and came to the stadium to watch me in these two games. He certainly brought me some good luck," Lavezzi said. "I don't think I have changed anything in the way I play, I just know that I have to score more often and I'm working hard in training to finish better when I have chances."

Despite having enjoyed some memorable European nights, Napoli have struggled to hit last season's heights in Serie A. "This victory was very important for us because we've got back to playing well in the league as well," Lavezzi continued. "We want to be back competing for the top positions in the table, but to do that we must remain humble, work hard and think one game at a time without focusing on the final objective."

With someone to help take the goalscoring burden off Edinson Cavani, UEFA Champions League qualification is no longer out of reach for the Partenopei.

Last updated: 27/02/12 10.19CET

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