Udinese failed to boost their Champions League hopes as they were held to an uneventful 0-0 draw at mid-table Chievo on Saturday.
However, fifth-placed Napoli bounced back from their own terrible run to beat second-from-bottom Novara 2-0 and keep themselves in the race for third.
Francesco Guidolin’s Udinese remain fourth in Serie A, closing the gap on third-placed Lazio in the final Champions League spot to two points, but having played a game more.
It continued the northerners’ late-season meltdown, as they have won only one of their last eight games. And yet they could have snatched the points if emblematic captain Antonio Di Natale had been more precise in his finishing.
Chievo enjoyed much the better of the first period and should really have gone into the break a goal to the good. In a crazy 60-second period, Alberto Paloschi turned Danilo, but then slotted his shot wide.
US international Michael Bradley then burst in behind the defense, but got no purchase on his effort before Udinese goalkeeper Samir Handanovic had to turn Rinaldo Cruzero’s low strike around the post.
In Naples the hosts were home and dry by half-time in a match delayed almost 20 minutes by a freak injury to referee Daniele Doveri. The referee stopped the game after just two minutes after dislocating his shoulder while awarding a free-kick.
Edinson Cavani gave Napoli the lead after a comedy of errors by Novara. Midfielder Filippo Porcari’s high, looping back-pass put goalkeeper Alberto Fontana under pressure and he scuffed his clearance straight to Blerim Dzemaili, who teed up Cavani to slot into the empty net.
Seventh-placed Catania kept up their hunt for European football next season with a 2-0 win over Atalanta, goals from Alejandro Gomez and Felipe Seymour doing the damage.
Parma boosted their survival hopes, while keeping Cagliari looking over their shoulders, with a 3-0 victory over the Sardinians.