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Napoli back top amid tensions in Serie A

Milan (AFP) – Napoli reclaimed top spot in Serie A on Wednesday amid increasing tensions ignited by a photo of Holocaust victim Anne Frank in a Roma jersey posted by Lazio fans last weekend which overshadowed the tenth round of Serie A action.

Inter Milan had provisionally moved top with a 3-2 win over Sampdoria on Tuesday but Napoli responded with Dries Mertens scoring a double and forcing an own goal in a come-from-behind 3-2 win at Genoa.

Juventus remain third a point behind Inter after a 4-1 win over SPAL in Turin, with Lazio shrugging off the controversy surrounding their fans to remain joint third with the champions after a 2-1 win at Bologna.

AS Rome are fifth despite battling past Crotone thanks to a Diego Perotti converted a penalty after ten minutes.

There was welcome relief for under-pressure AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella with a 4-1 win at Chievo getting the Chinese-owned club back to winning ways after three straight defeats and a draw.

Milan — without captain Leonardo Bonucci who was red carded last weekend — move up to eighth place with 16 points from ten games.

“It’s a victory that conveys strength and conviction,” said Montella. 

“I’m very pleased with this performance but there is no time to rejoice even if we want to enjoy this moment. Mentally we were in a rut.”

The team next play Juventus and Montella insisted: “Next Saturday I would like the real spark. I hope the Juve will underestimate us a bit.”

Milan broke through on 36 minutes through a curling striker from Spanish forward Suso, who also set up the second when his cross was accidentally headed into his own net by Bostjan Cesar.

Hakan Calhanoglu added a third after the break, before a Franck Kessie gave Chievo a goal through Valter Birsa. But Nikola Kalinic restored Milan’s advantage after 64 minutes.

– Emotions high –

Emotions were still running high throughout Italy, days after Lazio fans posted anti-semitic photos of Frank in a Roma jersey in the stands of the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

As Lazio’s ultras ‘Irriducibili’ fans announced they would not travel to Bologna for the team’s game on Wednesday, isolated supporters who had made the journey sang the Fascist song “Me ne frego” (“I Don’t Care”) in the stands of the Dall’Ara Stadium.

Lazio players, as planned, warmed up prior to the game, wearing a jersey with an image of Frank alongside the words “No to anti-semitism”.

On all pitches, rival captains and referees handed children copies of Italian Jewish writer Primo Levi’s memoir of deportation “If This Is A Man”.

Extracts were read from “The Diary of Anne Frank” before a minute of reflection on the Holocaust as requested by the Italian football federation, which quickly turned into a minute of applause in most stadiums.

But in Turin, where champions Juventus were playing SPAL, a section of the crowd turned their backs on the pitch and sang the Italian national anthem, while at Rome, where AS Roma met Crotone, some fans drowned out the reading with chants in favour of their team.

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