|I||H. Kiryat Shmona||21:05||Sparta Praha|
Edinson Cavani put in a stellar performance as SSC Napoli roared from 2-1 down to beat FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 4-2 in Group F – his only sadness being that his family were not there to witness his four-goal haul.
"I dedicate these goals to them," centre-forward Cavani said, having matched Falcao's UEFA Europa League record for goals in a single game, set in FC Porto's 5-1 win against Villarreal CF in the 2010/11 semi-finals. "They could not be at the stadium because we are waiting for a second son.
"Everyone in the team has his role and his responsibilities," the Uruguayan international added. "Mine is to score goals but we're all pushing in the same direction and we all give 100% when called on to play so I'd like to share the joy for my goals with the rest of the team."
Cavani opened the scoring after seven minutes in southern Italy, but Napoli were trailing until his wonderful free-kick on 77 minutes – his 77th goal for the Stadio San Paolo side in all competitions. The 25-year-old then added two more in the closing stages as the Partenopei finally saw off the Ukrainian outfit. Napoli are now second in Group F, three points behind Dnipro and two above AIK and PSV Eindhoven.
"We've been going through a difficult period and today it seemed like it would continue," Cavani went on. "Finally, though, we can enjoy an important victory with our fans. We have to keep calm and just be aware of our potential if we are going to reach our main objectives this season."
Former Danubio FC front man Cavani has hit six hat-tricks for Napoli since joining from US Città di Palermo in 2010, the last against S.S. Lazio in September when he also missed a penalty. "Edinson is amazing, but not only for his goals," said team-mate Gökhan Inler. "He also helps a lot in defence. He's in great form now but without us he could not score so many goals. I think the whole team did really well."
That feeling was shared by Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri. "I'm proud of my side, not only of Cavani," he said. "It seemed it was going to be one of those games but eventually we managed to turn it around, showing great character. Everyone played well, not only 'the Matador'. We were sure he could become a top player when we signed him. Many Napoli fans were not happy at the time because we sold [Fabio] Quagliarella. I'm happy I managed to convince Cavani that Napoli was the perfect place for him."
The Cavani clan did not see him reach 79 goals in Napoli colours – and surpass Giuseppe Savoldi to go sixth in the club's all-time scoring chart – but they may be set for a bigger celebration. Diego Maradona's Napoli record is only 36 goals away. On Thursday's form, it is a matter of when, rather than if, Cavani can break it.
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