Napoli slip up again to all but hand Juventus Serie A title


Milan (AFP) – Juventus are practically assured of winning a seventh successive Serie A title after second-placed Napoli were held 2-2 by Torino on Sunday.

Juventus have a six-point lead in Serie A with two games left to play. Both teams are equal in head-to-head clashes but Juventus are well ahead of their southern rivals on goal difference.

The champions now need just one point to officially retain their crown with games to come against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico and already-relegated Verona in Turin.

Torino twice battled back from a goal down to steal a point from Maurizio Sarri’s side who had been bidding for a first title since the days of Argentina legend Diego Maradona in 1987 and 1990.

“We battled for top spot right down to the wire,” said Sarri. “In the end, the Scudetto come down to minor details. 

“We did everything within our power to give Juventus a run for their money but objectively speaking they have greater resources than us and we couldn’t have done any more than we did.”

“The biggest regret was those injuries to (Faouzi) Ghoulam and (Arek) Milik because they deprived us of two important players.” 

Sarri said the “real turning point” was Juventus’ last-gasp win over Inter Milan last weekend with two goals in the final three minutes.

“In four minutes the Scudetto went from within our grasp to in Juve’s hands. Moments like that can define a season.”

The mood in the Stadio San Paolo was one of support for Sarri after club president Aurelio De Laurentiis laid the blame on the coach after last week’s defeat at Fiorentina effectively ended their title challenge.

Napoli’s last win was against Juventus in Turin two weeks ago.

Dries Mertens celebrated his 31st birthday by putting Napoli ahead after 25 minutes after a shocking defensive error by Torino’s Nicolas Burdisso, with captain Marek Hamsik coming off the bench to add a second for the hosts and his 100th in Serie A after 71 minutes.

But Daniele Baselli pulled the visitors level 10 minutes into the second half with a dejected Sarri burying his head in his hands as Lorenzo De Silvestri headed in seven minutes from time.

“I got angry because I want to finish the season as well as possible,” said the Napoli coach. 

“We must end the season on a high. These last two matches are very important because we can set a new all-time points record for this club.”

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