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Holder Napoli draws 1-1 at Lazio in 1st leg of Italian Cup semifinal

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ROME — Defending champion Napoli drew 1-1 at Lazio in the first leg of their Italian Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

Miroslav Klose broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute but the in-form Manolo Gabbiadini leveled for Napoli shortly before the hour mark.

Both sides also hit the woodwork in an entertaining match that leaves it all to play for in the second leg in Naples next month.

The winner will face either Juventus or Fiorentina, which meet in the other semifinal.

Napoli has won two of the past three editions of the competition, with Lazio triumphing in 2013.

The teams are also evenly matched in the league, with Lazio two points behind Napoli in the fight for third spot.

PHOTO: Lazio’s Miroslav Klose lies ont he pitch after being injured during an Italian Cup semifinal first leg soccer match between Lazio and Napoli, at Rome's Olympic stadium, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Lazio’s Miroslav Klose lies ont he pitch after being injured during an Italian Cup semifinal first leg soccer match between Lazio and Napoli, at Rome's Olympic stadium, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Lazio had lost all but one of its past six matches against Napoli but almost took an early lead when Klose headed a corner off the left upright.

It did take the lead, though, shortly after the half hour following a classic counter attack. Felipe Anderson sprinted forward and played a smart through ball to Klose, who sidefooted it past the onrushing Mariano Andujar.

Napoli went close to the equalizer five minutes into the second half but David Lopez's header from a corner clipped the top of the crossbar.

Rafa Benitez's side leveled in the 58th. Dries Mertens put a delightful ball over the top towards Gonzalo Higuain, who rounded Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha. His attempt to get it into the empty net appeared to be going wide but Gabbiadini tapped it in.

Gabbiadini has scored five goals for Napoli since a January move from Sampdoria, where he had scored nine goals before the winter break.

The match was overshadowed somewhat by Lazio fans chanting abuse about the city of Naples and its citizens.

"I think that the law has to be tougher: if you close a section or if you close a stadium, then people will begin to learn," Benitez said of the abuse. "That way we will have a bit of respect for football and people who go to watch matches."

Several clubs had sections of their stadiums closed last season for similar offences before the rule governing anti-territorial chanting was amended by the Italian federation during the summer.

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PHOTO: Lazio’s Miroslav Klose in action during an Italian Cup semifinal first leg soccer match between Lazio and Napoli, at Rome's Olympic stadium, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
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