Tue, Apr 01, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Napoli hand Juve second loss of season

FAINT HOPES STILL ALIVE:Second-placed AS Roma took advantage of SSC Napoli’s 2-0 win over Juventus as they closed the gap to 11 points by beating lowly US Sassuolo

AP, ROME

Dani Osvaldo of Juventus, left, shoots as SSC Napoli’s Henrique looks on in their Serie A match at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Real Madrid castoff Jose Maria Callejon scored in the first half and Belgium international Dries Mertens added a late goal as SSC Napoli handed Serie A leaders Juventus only their second loss of the season with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Juventus still have an 11-point lead over second-placed AS Roma and are 17 points ahead of Napoli with seven rounds remaining.

In the 37th minute at the Stadio San Paolo, Callejon beat Juve midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah to redirect a cross from Lorenzo Insigne from the edge of the penalty area for his 12th goal since transferring from Real Madrid last summer.

Mertens sealed the result after collecting a long pass from Goran Pandev in the 81st minute and muscling off Claudio Marchisio, before beating goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon with a long bouncing shot.

Napoli are still hoping to edge Roma for second place and gain the last direct UEFA Champions League berth.

“This is a very important win, because it keeps us close to Roma,” Insigne said. “We’re going to fight until the end.”

Juventus, who were without suspended Serie A leading scorer Carlos Tevez, struggled to create chances. The Turin power’s only other loss was a 4-2 defeat at ACF Fiorentina in October last year.

Earlier on Sunday, Mattia Destro’s early goal was key and AS Roma were fortunate when a penalty for relegation-threatened US Sassuolo was waved off by the referee in a 2-0 win.

Roma face Parma tomorrow in the resumption of a match from February that was postponed after eight minutes because of a waterlogged pitch.

“No other squads will be playing,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. “We’ve got to take advantage of that.”

Elsewhere, fourth-place ACF Fiorentina were held to a 0-0 draw at UC Sampdoria.

Fiorentina winger Juan Vargas banged a free-kick off the corner of the goal frame in the 78th minute and Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was sent off for protesting in the final minutes, grabbing an official’s arm as he walked off the pitch.

Parma remained one point behind Inter in the race for fifth and the final Europa League berth after a 3-2 loss at SS Lazio.

Antonio Candreva scored the winner for Lazio in stoppage-time of a match marked by poor defending on both sides.

After Lazio’s Senad Lulic and Parma’s Jonathan Biabiany traded goals in the first half, Miroslav Klose restored Lazio’s lead in the 67th minute and then Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti let the ball trickle in between his legs in the 81st for an own-goal.

Luca Toni scored twice after Marco Donadel’s opener in Hellas Verona’s 3-0 win over Genoa and Alessio Cerci set up one goal for Omar El Kaddouri and scored another in Torino’s 2-1 win over Cagliari.

In Naples, only Buffon kept the hosts from scoring early on.

Buffon stopped a close-range attempt from Callejon seven minutes in, Hamsik had a goal annulled for offside seconds later and Buffon tipped an attempt from Hamsik over the bar in the 10th minute.

Buffon also blocked a powerful effort from Callejon in the 29th minute, then stopped a dangerous free-kick from Algeria fullback Faouzi Ghoulam in the 58th.

Napoli were helped by vocal crowd support.

“As always, the fans gave us a big hand,” Insigne said.

In Reggio Emilia, Destro had an easy time finding the target from the center of the penalty area in the 16th minute after being set up by Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who stripped the ball from a defender just outside the area.

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