December 21, 2014
Higuain hits hat-trick in Serie A goal glut
Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat-trick in third-placed Napoli's 4-2 win over 10-man Lazio and the goal glut continued with Fiorentina winning 5-3 at Verona and Alberto Paloschi's hat-trick guiding Chievo to a 4-2 win at Livorno in a relegation battle.
Napoli, who have been exasperatingly inconsistent all season, fell behind to a well-taken Senad Lulic goal but came to life when Dries Mertens scored with a superb long-range strike four minutes before halftime.
The game turned three minutes after the re-start when Lazio captain Lorik Cana gave away a penalty, was sent off and Higuain converted.
The Argentine struck again with a half-volley in the 66th minute and completed his hat-trick with a clever chip in stoppage time after Eddy Onazi had replied in between for Lazio.
Inter Milan also ended a poor run by routing Sampdoria 4-0 away after the hosts had Eder sent off and missed a penalty in the first 20 minutes.
Argentine youngster Mauro Icardi took centre stage as he lined up for a polemic clash against Sampdoria's Maxi López, scoring twice to help the Nerazzurri to a much-needed victory.
Jeered before kickoff, the Argentine turned to the Sampdoria fans and put his hand to his ear as if encouraging them to insult him, angering the home players.
The next twist came in the 18th minute when Sampdoria won a penalty but Maxi Lopez, who had refused to shake hands with Icardi before the game, saw his kick saved by Samir Handanovic.
Two minutes later, Sampdoria forward Eder was booked for a blatant dive which sparked a scuffle in which the Brazilian was given another yellow card and sent off.
Undeterred, Samp pushed forward, forcing several world class saves from Handanovic but they ran out of steam after halftime and Inter romped home with a Walter Samuel header, another Icardi goal and Rodrigo Palacio's 15th goal of the season.
The win lifted Inter, hoping to avoid the ignominy of missing out of European football for a second successive season, back into fifth place which earns a Europa League spot.
The goals flowed in other matches with Gonzalo Higuain scoring a hat-trick in Napoli's 4-2 win over Lazio, Fiorentina beating Verona 5-3 away and Chievo winning 4-2 at Livorno in a relegation crunch game helped by an Alberto Paloschi hat-trick.