Napoli moved to within three points of second-placed Roma in Italian Serie A thanks to a 2-0 win over Sassuolo on Monday evening. Duvan Zapata and Marek Hamsik scored the goals for Rafael Benitez’s men, who ended the game with only ten men with substitute Dries Mertens shown a red card.
Second-half substitute Mertens was sent off five minutes after taking to the field for a dangerous tackle from behind on Simone Missiroli, but Napoli held on to record their fifth victory in their last six Serie A matches. The win means Napoli can move above Roma next Sunday when they face Torino, before the Giallorossi host Juventus on Monday.
Roma drifted even further behind leaders Juventus in the Italian Serie A title race after being held to a 1-1 draw at Hellas Verona. The Giallorossi needed to respond to Juve’s victory over Atalanta and Francesco Totti put them on the right track with a 26th-minute opener at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.
But Bosko Jankovic struck for Hellas seven minutes before the break to earn the hosts a share of the spoils, while leaving Roma nine points off the pace in their quest for the Scudetto. The Giallorossi have drawn six of their last seven games and next week’s meeting with Juve in Rome will be critical to their chances of catching the Turin giants.
Juventus warmed up for their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash against Borussia Dortmund next week with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over relegation-threatened Atalanta in Turin.
In a Serie A clash moved forward to Friday night, Juventus extended their lead at the top of the table to ten points over idle Roma with the capital side not in action until Sunday when they travel to Verona. The victory also maintained Juventus’ unbeaten run at home this season, and extended their run without a loss in all competitions at the Juventus Stadium to 31.
Roma’s Serie A title hopes come under the spotlight when Rudi Garcia’s men visit struggling Verona on Sunday with a likely 10-point deficit to leaders and champions Juventus.
Juventus, who boast a seven-point lead at the top of Italy’s top flight, host Atalanta on Friday, four days before the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie at home to Borussia Dortmund. Atalanta have won only five games this season so are not expected to hand Juventus a first home reverse this season, but the Turin club’s coach Massimiliano Allegri has warned against complacency.
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Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon hit out at the attitude of the Italian champions following Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw with strugglers Cesena.
At the Dino Manuzzi stadium, Juve struggled against a Cesena side that has been fighting to get out of the relegation zone all season.
Chili’s Arturo Vidal even missed a late penalty that could have given Juve a nine-point-lead over second-placed Roma, who drew 0-0 at home to basement side Parma – their fifth draw in six games.
“Maybe Roma’s result changed the outlook a little, but a squad like ours shouldn’t be affected by results elsewhere,” Buffon told Sky Sport.
Italian Serie A leaders Juventus were held to a 2-2 draw by struggling Cesena on Sunday, missing a late chance to win the game from the penalty spot.
Milan Djuric had the lowly hosts ahead but goals from Alvaro Morata and Claudio Marchisio sent the Turin side into the break with the lead. Franco Brienza’s strike drew the teams level with 20 minutes to play but there was still time for Arturo Vidal to miss a penalty as Cesena held firm.
Roma snapped a four-game winless streak by beating Cagliari 2-1 to close the gap on Serie A leaders Juventus to seven points.
The capital club had drifted off the pace in the title race thanks to four straight draws, but goals from Adem Ljajic and Leandro Paredes – both set up by full debutant Daniele Verde – put them back on track. Gianfranco Zola’s Cagliari, who found a late consolation from substitute Paul-Jose M’Poku at Stadio Sant’Elia, remain in 17th place and one point clear of the relegation zone following back-to-back defeats.
Juventus pulled ten points clear of Italian Serie A title rivals Roma with a convincing 3-1 victory over AC Milan. Despite their inconsistent form, the Rossoneri certainly have the potential to match Juve and so the league leaders made sure to put them in their place early on through a goal from Carlos Tevez.
Recent signing Luca Antonelli pegged the reigning champions back ever so briefly but Leonardo Bonucci’s strike gave Juve the confidence to push on and consolidate the win through Alvaro Morata.
Gonzalo Higuain pounced on an Inter Milan defensive error to hit an injury-time winner for Napoli to secure both a 1-0 win and a place for the holders in the Coppa Italia semi-finals.
Inter coach Roberto Mancini, who spent four success-laden seasons at the helm of the Nerazzurri from 2004-2008, had led Inter into four Coppa Italia finals, winning twice, in his previous spell in charge. The match looked to be heading for extra time but in the 93rd minute Algerian international Faouzi Gholam, in his first game for Napoli since returning from the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, found Higuain in space down the left with a long throw-in.
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As part of the deal that saw winger Juan Cuadrado move from Fiorentina to Chelsea, Viola have got 22-year-old Mohamed Salah on loan for the rest of the season.
Salah, only arrived at Stamford Bridge from Basel last January, but he has struggled to make an impact under Jose Mourinho.The Croatia U-21 international has been on loan at Dutch club NAC Breda and will spend the next 18 months on loan at Udinese.
Losing Cuadrado will be a big blow to Fiorentina, but after Chelsea activated his £26.8m release clause, the fact that the winger was moving to the Premier League was a foregone conclusion.