Patrice Evra scored his first goal in Serie A, but Juventus were held 1-1 at home by UEFA Champions League hopefuls UC Sampdoria on Sunday and had their lead cut to one point.
Radja Nainggolan scored as second-placed AS Roma won 1-0 at 10-man Genoa to bounce back from their Champions League elimination and set up a title fight with three-time defending champions Juve with the second half of the season approaching.
“We took advantage of the chance to pull within one point that we didn’t take advantage of last time,” Roma coach Rudi Garcia said, referring to a wasted opportunity the previous weekend. “We’ve learned well.”
Evra, the former Manchester United leftback, put Juventus ahead with a header following a corner 12 minutes into the lunchtime fixture.
Allowed time to line up a shot from the edge of the penalty area, Sampdoria substitute Manolo Gabbiadini equalized in the 51st minute by shooting inside the far post for his sixth goal of the season.
The draw ended Juve’s Serie A home winning streak at 25 matches in the Turin club’s last home match of this year.
The last time Juve dropped points at home in the league was a 1-1 draw with Cagliari in May last year.
“They’re really strong here. They’re also tough on the road, but here they have another gear,” Gabbiadini said.
Juventus also drew their previous league match, 0-0 at ACF Fiorentina.
“It’s too bad, because we created a ton of chances in the first half and we didn’t take advantage of them all,” Juve coach Massimilian Allegri said.
Sampdoria, who stretched their unbeaten streak to six matches, moved level on points with Genoa and SS Lazio in the race for the final Champions League berth.
Also on Sunday, AC Milan beat SSC Napoli 2-0 at the San Siro with goals from Jeremy Menez and Giacomo Bonaventura, ending Napoli’s 11-match unbeaten streak.
Menez scored his career-best eighth of the season by dribbling between two defenders and beating the goalkeeper with a sharply angled shot that went in off the post six minutes in.
Shortly into the second half, Bonaventura was left unmarked to head in a cross from Pablo Armero.
In other matches, Fiorentina moved up to seventh with a 4-1 win at 10-man Cesena, where Borja Valero, Stefan Savic, Gonzalo Rodriguez and Mounir El Hamdaoui scored for the visitors; Hellas Verona won 2-1 at Udinese with Luca Toni celebrating his 300th goal with the decider following strikes from Antonio di Natale and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos; and last-placed Parma drew 0-0 with Cagliari in a matchup of two clubs in the relegation zone.
Despite the early kickoff, Juventus were sharp from the start with Alvaro Morata and Roberto Pereyra threatening in the opening 10 minutes.
The 33-year-old Evra met a corner from Claudio Marchisio at the edge of the area to score an impressive goal. Evra, who joined Juventus on a two-year contract in July, only scored seven goals in 273 Premier League matches with United.
Midway through the first half, France midfielder Paul Pogba nearly made it 2-0 after expertly controlling a pass from Leonardo Bonucci, but he could not find the target.
Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic replaced Nenad Krsticic with Gabbiadini to start the second half and the move paid off when Gabbiadini shot past an outstretched Gianluigi Buffon to draw the visitors level.
In Genoa, goalkeeper Mattia Perin was sent off for a foul on Nainggolan in the 29th minute, but reserve goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna saved the ensuing penalty kick from Adem Ljajic in his first career start in the top tier.
However, Nainggolan connected with a superb volley following a cross from Maicon to score in the 40th minute and Roma, boosted by the man advantage, controlled the game the rest of the way.
The victory was some consolation for Roma after a 2-0 loss to Manchester City eliminated the Giallorossi from the Champions League last week.
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