Juventus and AC Milan each played to scoreless draws on Sunday as the top of Serie A remained unchanged, but Milan standout Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off for hitting an opponent and he could face a multi-game ban.
In the 64th minute of Milan’s match with Napoli, Ibrahimovic slapped his right hand on the side of Salvatore Aronica’s face.
Ibrahimovic will miss a difficult game at Udinese next weekend and, if he is suspended for up to three matches, he will also miss a match with Juventus on Feb. 25.
“It wasn’t violent, so I don’t think Ibrahimovic will get more than two matches,” Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said.
Juventus, who were held 0-0 at home by AC Siena, lead Milan by one point and they have a game in hand.
Third-placed Udinese lost 3-2 at Fiorentina, who got two penalties from Stevan Jovetic and a goal from Mattia Cassani.
Also, AS Roma routed Inter 4-0 in a match postponed by 24 hours because of a rare snowstorm in the capital. Roma’s 20-year-old striker Fabio Borini scored twice and Juan and Bojan Krkic also found the net for the Giallorossi.
“The merit belongs to Roma, they really played a great match and we weren’t valid opponents,” Inter manager Claudio Ranieri said after his club’s third straight match without a win. “We can’t go on like this.”
Elsewhere, it was Chievo Verona 1, Parma 2; Lecce 0, Bologna 0; Novara Calcio 0, Cagliari 0; and Palermo 2, Atalanta BC 1.
Earlier, a spectacular goal from Rodrigo Palacio in the lunchtime fixture launched Genoa to a 3-2 win over 10-man SS Lazio.
With his back to the goal, Palacio somehow found the target with a volley over his head into the far top corner in the 10th minute off a corner.
Serbian striker Bosko Jankovic then scored in the 25th and 46th minutes to make it 3-0, but Cristian Ledesma pulled one back with a penalty for Lazio in the 54th minute and Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Gonzalez scored again for the Roman club in the 90th minute.
Lazio defender Mobido Diakite was sent off for apparent protests in the 82nd minute.
Lazio required seven hours to arrive from Rome and they had not trained for three days because of the snow. Still, Lazio remain fourth, trailing Juve by six points.
At the San Siro, Robinho had Milan’s best chances, but Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis was too good.
De Sanctis also denied Ibrahimovic in the 61st minute and that may have led to the Sweden forward losing his cool minutes later after the referee had stopped play. As the players gathered near the edge of the area, Ibrahimovic moved his arm around another player and hit Aronica.
Ibrahimovic was banned twice for disciplinary incidents last season. First, he was forced to sit out two games for punching a defender in the stomach, then he was banned for three matches for insulting an assistant referee.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was also expelled on Sunday, for protests in the 89th minute.
Meanwhile in Turin, AC Siena goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo was the hero with a series of impressive saves as Juve’s Stephan Lichtsteiner, Claudio Marchisio and Alessandro Matri each wasted chances.
Juventus appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty when Siena midfielder Simone Vergassola appeared to stick his hand in the way of a cross from Giorgio Chiellini inside the penalty area in the 85th minute.
“One episode can change the outcome of a match,” Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “We created that episode and the referee was in a good position, but he didn’t see it. Sometimes winning or losing is a question of a split second of attention. That can shape a season and that would be a shame.”