International Soccer - Italy

Higuain's hat trick leads Napoli past Lazio

Naples, Italy ( - A second-half hat trick from Gonzalo Higuain allowed Napoli to strengthen its hold on third place with a 4-2 home victory against Lazio on Sunday.

The two sides were level at 1-1 after 45 minutes, but Lazio's Lorik Cana received a second yellow card early in the second half, allowing Napoli to take control of the game with three goals from Higuain against the 10-man visitors.

The win keeps Napoli nine points clear of fourth-place Fiorentina in the race for the final Champions League spot with five games remaining.

Lazio started well and went in front in the 21st minute with a nice solo effort from Senad Lulic, whose goal was canceled out 20 minutes later by a powerful strike from Napoli's Dries Mertens.

Mertens was involved again in the 48th minute when he was brought down inside the penalty area by Cana, earning the Lazio man a second yellow card that left his side with 10 men.

Higuain made no mistake from the penalty spot to put his team in front, and he added another goal in the 67th when he latched on to a pass from Lorenzo Insigne before beating goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

Ogenyi Onazi handed Lazio a bit of hope in the 82nd with his first goal of the season to make it 3-2, but Higuain completed his hat trick in stoppage time to wrap up the victory with a neat flick past Berisha.

Fiorentina kept pace with a 5-3 win at Hellas Verona with two goals from Alberto Aquilani, while fifth-place Inter Milan handled Sampdoria, 4-0, behind a brace from Mauro Icardi.

Bologna's 1-1 draw with Parma moved the club three points above the relegation places, Livorno stayed in the bottom three after losing 4-2 to Chievo, which got a hat trick from Alberto Paloschi, Torino scored two goals in stoppage time to steal a 2-1 win over Genoa, and AC Milan earned a 1-0 victory over Catania on the strength of a Ricardo Montolivo goal.

04/13 17:44:49 ET

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