Milan (AFP) – Jorginho fired Napoli back top of Serie A on Sunday with a 1-0 win at Udinese as champions Juventus returned to winning ways 3-0 against Crotone.
Napoli move ahead of Inter Milan who had gone top on Friday with Argentina striker Mauro Icardi bagging a brace in a 3-1 win at Cagliari.
The leading trio of Napoli, Inter and Juventus have now pulled cleared of the pursuing pack with Roma and Lazio both held at the weekend.
Napoli have 38 points from 14 games with Inter two points behind. Juventus are third four points off the leaders with Roma three points behind the six-time reigning champions in fourth.
In spite of terrible pitch conditions at Udinese’s Dacia Arena, Jorginho managed to open early off the rebound after missing a penalty on 33 minutes as new Udinese coach Massimo Oddo lost his first game in charge.
Napoli lacked inspiration after their Champions League exploits midweek and could thank goalkeeper Pepe Reina for keeping out a late Antonin Barak effort.
“It wasn’t easy, the pitch was in horrible condition and barely qualified to play top flight football on. We needed three touches just to get the ball under control,” complained Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri.
Juventus bounced back from their defeat at Sampdoria last weekend with three second half goals from Mario Mandzukic, Mattia De Sciglio and Medhi Benatia.
After a frustrating first-half Mandzukic broke through on 52 minutes heading in Andrea Barzagli’s cross.
Eight minutes later De Sciglio got his first professional goal with Benatia nudging in the third on 71 minutes following a Miralem Pjanic cross.
– De Rossi sees red —
A moment of madness from captain Daniele De Rossi frustrated Roma who were held 1-1 at struggling Genoa after the veteran Italian was sent off in the second half for pulling Gianluca Lapadula’s shirt and slapping him in the face.
Stephen El Shaarawy had opened for Roma with a volley off an Alessandro Florenzi assist on 59 minutes but ten minutes later De Rossi saw red after consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR).
Lapadula slotted in the resulting penalty.
“He’s not a kid, especially when he’s the leader,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco. “I still haven’t talked to him but he was certainly sorry for what happened, the naivety is that nobody escapes VAR.
“These are two lost points, although I have to say I’m happy with the performance apart from Daniele’s nonsense.”
Roma are fourth, but the stalemate ends their record of 12 straight Serie A away wins this season.
Lapadula’s penalty gave Genoa a much needed point as they sit fourth from bottom with ten points.
Fiorentina held Lazio 1-1 thanks to another controversial last-gasp penalty awarded for a Felipe Caicedo foul on German Pezzella after consultation with VAR.
Stefan de Vrij had given Lazio the lead after 25 minutes but deep into stoppage time Senegalese striker Khouma Babacar converted the spot-kick.
“There is bitterness at conceding a penalty like that. I’ve seen it 20 times and don’t understand how it was given,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi. A win would have seen Lazio move joint fourth with local rivals Roma.
AC Milan were held to a goalless draw by Torino in the San Siro, with goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma and Salvatore Sirigu pulling off some spectacular saves.
Milan are seventh equal on 20 points with Chievo and Bologna, a single point ahead of Torino, but there was frustration having failed to score in their last four matches at the San Siro.
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