Tue, Oct 03, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Napoli go top as champions Juve stumble

AFP, MILAN, Italy

Atalanta BC’s Bryan Cristante, right, scores against Juventus in their Serie A match at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia in Bergamo, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

SSC Napoli on Sunday took sole possession of top spot in Serie A after their 3-0 win over Cagliari as champions Juventus’ winning run stalled 2-2 at Atalanta BC.

The stalemate ended the six-time defending champions’ run of six consecutive wins leaving them joint second with Inter — who beat Benevento 2-1 — with Napoli top on a maximum 21 points.

“I was worried at the end, as we could have lost it and every point will be precious come the end of the season,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.

Juventus had been two goals up in Bergamo after Federico Bernardeschi opened on 21 minutes and Gonzalo Higuain added a second four minutes later, but on-loan Juventus defender Mattia Caldara turned in a rebound to pull one back for Atalanta after half an hour to keep the hosts in touch at the break.

Mario Mandzukic thought he had scored for 3-1, but it was disallowed when the video assistant referee ruled Stephan Lichtsteiner had elbowed Alejandro Gomez in the face.

Bryan Cristante nodded in a Gomez cross to level on 67 minutes for Atalanta, who finished fourth in Serie A last season.

Paolo Dybala missed a chance to grab the winner nine minutes from time when Juventus were awarded a penalty — also through the video assistant referee — after an Andrea Petagna handball in the area, but Albanian goalkeeper Etrit Berisha saved the kick to frustrate the Argentine striker, who remains top of the Serie A goalscorers with 10 so far this season.

“There are few teams that can bother Juve and we’re among them,” Gomez said. “We missed the first few minutes, but then we had an amazing game. I’m proud of this team.”

Marcelo Brozovic scored a quick-fire first-half brace as Inter claimed a tight win at bottom-of-the-table Benevento, who got one back through Marco D’Alessandro.

SS Lazio confirmed their push for Europe with a 6-1 hammering of US Sassuolo to sit fourth — Ciro Immobile scoring his ninth goal from the penalty spot, with Luis Alberto and Marco Parolo hitting braces either side of a Stefan de Vrij header.

Edin Dzeko and Alessandro Florenzi scored late for AS Roma — fifth with a game in hand — in their 2-0 win over AC Milan at the San Siro which piles the pressure on Milan coach Vincenzo Montella.

“Milan had a good match, but Roma were smarter,” Roma coach Eusebio di Francesco said. “Napoli is a symphony at the moment, but Juve is the team to really beat.”

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