Milan: Napoli drew 1-1 with ten-man Genoa on Sunday to ensure that Juventus will have to wait another week to seal an eighth consecutive Serie A title. The champions have a 20-point advantage on second-placed Napoli, who they have beaten in both their head-to-head clashes, with seven games to go. Juventus, who beat AC Milan 2-1 on Saturday, needed Napoli to lose to win the Scudetto for the 35th time, ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Ajax next week. A draw next weekend at lowly SPAL would be enough for Massimiliano Allegri’s side to win the title which would be the first in Italy for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite their numerical advantage, Napoli struggled to contain the visitors who inflicted the only league defeat this season on Juventus last month.
Genoa went a man down when Stefano Sturaro was sent off on 28 minutes following a VAR review for a diving studs-up tackle on Allan.
Dries Mertens blasted in the opener on 34 minutes, but Darko Lazovic pulled Genoa level just before the break. Genoa goalkeeper Ionut Radu ensured his 14th-placed side went away with a point with a string of fine saves including two late on Mertens and Kalidou Koulibaly.
“It was an unexpected performance that makes an alarm bell ring, if we play like this in London, then we’re in trouble,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti ahead of next week’s Europa League game against Arsenal.
“We absolutely must wake up, demonstrate the value and potential that this group has and find our true identity.
“Luckily we have four days to fix things.”
Atalanta let Milan off hook
Atalanta missed the chance to move fourth and into the Champions League berths at the expense of AC Milan with a 0-0 draw against Inter Milan at the San Siro.
The side from Bergamo were without suspended Colombian striker Duvan Zapata, who has scored 20 Serie A goals this season, and had to settle for a point as Inter consolidated third position.
Inter are five points ahead of city rivals Milan who are ahead of Atalanta on goal difference.
Mauro Icardi returned to the San Siro for the first time since a defeat by Bologna on February 3, and was greeted with a mixture of whistles and cheers from the home crowd.
The Argentina striker had scored on his return at Genoa last weekend following six weeks out after being stripped of the captaincy over a contract dispute.
Teammate Matias Vecino thought he had scored minutes into the game but the goal was disallowed for offside, with Icardi also denied early.
The visitors’ best chance came in the 48th minute when Alejandro Gomez failed to connect with a great Josip Ilicic cross in front of goal.
The race for Champions League football next season remains tight with just Atalanta, Roma, Lazio and Torino all within touching distance of the top four.
Claudio Ranieri’s Roma returned to the Europa League places after a 1-0 win over Sampdoria on Saturday, and are sixth one point off the Champions League spots.
Lazio were held 2-2 at home against Sassuolo and sit seventh, three points off the top four, but with a game in hand, and just ahead of Torino.
Senad Lulic grabbed a point for Lazio five minutes into injury time to rescue a draw after their midweek defeat by SPAL.
In Florence, substitute Daniel Ciofani earned a late win for second-from-bottom Frosinone to crush Fiorentina’s Europa League hopes.
Fiorentina drop to 12 points off the Europa League berths, with coach Stefano Pioli’s position at risk. — AFP