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Serie A: Wins help Napoli top table and AC Milan get back on track

Sep 28, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT

Napoli's Goran Pandev controls the ball during the Italian Serie A soccer match against Genoa at the Marassi stadium in Genoa Reuters

Two wins for two Italian giants, but the three points meant very different things to each side Saturday.

Macedonian striker Goran Pandev bagged a brace before the 25th minute and that was all Napoli needed as they downed Genoa 2-0 to rise to the top of the Serie A table.

Their 16 points are out of a possible 18, with the only missed chance coming in a 1-1 draw midweek to promoted Sassuolo.

It’s the third clean sheet of the season for Liverpool loanee Pepe Reina as he continues his hot start to the season, and Rafa Benitez‘s new-look squad is firing on all cylinders.

Pandev, who joined at the beginning of last season, linked up well with new signing Jose Callejon and the rest of the midfield.  That play was much more important on a day when Benitez rested a number of his normal starters, including Marek Hamsik and Gonzalo Higuain.

The stay at the top could be relatively short-lived for Napoli, with Roma, Inter, and Juventus all within range and playing tomorrow.

For AC Milan, their 1-0 victory is the beginning of what supporters will hope is a return to normality.  It’s been a frustrating start to the season, and Valter Birsa’s goal immediately after halftime gave the Rossoneri just their second win of the season.

Milan now move to 8th place in the table, and will be needing all the momentum they can build with a Champions League tie against Ajax looming Tuesday, and then defending Serie A champions Juventus waiting to welcome them in next weekend.

It’s Birsa’s first goal for AC Milan since coming over from Turin this summer.

Tomorrow sees most of the Serie A action for the weekend, with Inter and Juventus both heading out on the road against Torino and Cagliari respectively, while Roma hosts Bologna.

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