Soccer-Napoli keep in touch in title race after epic Inter win


ROME, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Napoli kept their hopes of a first Serie A title since 1990 alive with an epic 4-2 win over 10-man Inter Milan on Sunday.

Goals from Gonzalo Higuain, Dries Mertens, Blerim Dzemaili and Jose Callejon saw Rafael Benitez beat his old club in a hugely entertaining contest and go eight points behind leaders Juventus.

Juve had briefly gone 11 points clear of third-placed Napoli after a Carlos Tevez hat-trick inspired a 4-0 beating of Sassuolo, their eighth win in a row without conceding a goal.

Goran Pandev missed an added time penalty after winning the spot kick himself only seconds after coming on as a substitute for Napoli but it made no difference to the result.

Walter Mazzari was whistled and booed by a section of the San Paolo crowd on his first return since leaving for Inter in the summer but Esteban Cambiasso and Yuto Nagatomo struck for a visiting side that despite losing will be happy with the grit and class shown in such a hostile environment.

Their task was made harder in the 71st minute when Ricky Alvarez was sent off following a second booking for handball, enraging Mazzari and allowing Napoli respite from Inter's enterprising attacking play.

The win also put Napoli two points behind unbeaten AS Roma, who travel to struggling AC Milan on Monday looking to close the gap between themselves and Juve back to three points. (Reporting by Terry Daley; Editing by Rex Gowar)

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