Juve’s grit sees Napoli stumble
ROME – Napoli’s title hopes were dealt a huge blow as they slumped to a heavy defeat against Fiorentina, allowing Juventus to restore their four-point lead at the top of the Serie A.
Roma led the way on a high-scoring weekend, thumping Chievo 4-1 at the Stadio Olimpico. Whilst sights may be firmly set on welcoming Liverpool on Wednesday night, three points was key to fend off challenges to their European spot.
Patrik Schick and Edin Dzeko put the Giallorossi in front although Alisson was forced to save a penalty in the second half after Nunes Jesus was sent off.
Following goals from Stephan El Sharrawy and another from Dzeko put out a statement to Liverpool as Roberto Inglese’s late header came as a mere consolation.
The result in the capital was aided enormously by a remarkable turnaround at the San Siro which saw Juventus scramble their way back to a 3-2 victory, having seemingly slipped up for a second week in a row. A loss for Inter leaves them with an even tougher task to oust Roma or Lazio from the Champions League spots.
Mauro Icardi cancelled out Douglas Costa’s opener with Inter already down to 10 men. Another goal, this time from Andrea Barzagli, seemed to have shaken up the title race, but with three minutes to play, Juan Cuadrado provided a spark, seeing his shot from an impossible angle deflect in to level the scoring.
Yet, the headlines were stolen by Gonzalo Higuain whose last-gasp winner could prove crucial in denying his former club, Napoli, of a first title since 1990.
Last week’s hero for Napoli, Kalidou Koulibaly, was shown an early red card in a VAR decision as his side’s burst of momentum came to an abrupt halt. Giovanni Simeone pulled Napoli apart with a well-taken hat-trick as Fiorentina continue their late climb up the table.
At the bottom end of the league, SPAL and Crotone recorded convincing and hugely valuable victories to move clear of the relegation zone. A 3-1 loss for Hellas Verona at the hands of SPAL leaves their survival ambitions in tatters whilst Crotone cruised past Sassuolo 4-1 to move four points above 18th place Chievo.
Udinese, meanwhile, managed a 3-3 draw against already-relegated Benevento bringing a torrid losing streak to an end. Their sudden tumble down the standings, however, means they are very much in contention to inexplicably face the drop.
Juventus still have to tackle a tricky run-in, including a trip to Roma, but this weekend’s drama certainly seems pivotal as bookies slash the odds of a seventh successive Serie A title for the Bianconeri.
Roma 4-1 Chievo
Inter Milan 2-3 Juventus
Crotone 4-1 Sassuolo
Atalanta 3-1 Genoa
Benevento 3-3 Udinese
Bologna 1-2 AC Milan
Sampdoria 4-1 Cagliari
Hellas Verona 1-3 SPAL
Fiorentina 3-0 Napoli
Torino 0-1 Lazio