Napoli no-show lets Atalanta, AC Milan pull clear, Inter held in Serie A

Milan (AFP) – Napoli risk a 3-0 forfeit for failing to turn up for their Serie A clash against Juventus amid a row over coronavirus protocol in Italy on Sunday, allowing title rivals Atalanta and AC Milan move top of Serie A ahead of Inter Milan who were held at Lazio.

Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli had been top of the league going into weekend’s action with two wins in as many games as they target a third Serie A title and first in 30 years.

But Eljif Elmas and Piotr Zielinski’s positive coronavirus tests forced the southerners into home isolation on the instructions of health authorities in the Campania region.

The Lega Serie A insisted all the health protocols were in place for the match to safely go ahead as scheduled for Turin at 1845 GMT.

“(Napoli president Aurelio) De Laurentiis asked me to postpone the match, I replied that there are regulations to be respected,” Juve president Andrea Agnelli told Sky Sport Italia.

“A 3-0 win? I always prefer to win on the field,” Agnelli added whose side had four points after two games as they chase a 10th title in a row.

Amid the turmoil, Andrea Pirlo’s champions prepared their game as usual, naming a starting list, despite solid indications of a Napoli no-show for the third game of the season.

The Juventus bus pulled into the Allianz Stadium an hour beforehand, with the players remaining in their tracksuits on the pitch, along with referees and a handful of supporters under the rain.

The match was eventually abandoned 45 minutes after its scheduled start time, with Napoli’s fate now depending on a meeting of Italian league officials on Tuesday.

“Honestly, there are people who are competent to deal with situations and problems of this type,” said Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte. 

Serie A runners-up Inter were held 1-1 in a bad-tempered game against Lazio in Rome where both teams finished a man down.

Lazio played the final 20 minutes without last season’s top Serie A scorer Ciro Immobile, who was sent off for hitting out at Arturo Vidal, with Inter’s Stefano Sensi also seeing red with minutes to go.

But Conte was happy to take a point from the Stadio Olimpico before the Milan derby.

Lautaro Martinez’s first-half goal was cancelled out by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s header ten minutes into the second half.

– 13 goals in three games –

Atalanta are top of the table with a maximum nine points alongside AC Milan, two points ahead of Sassuolo and Inter.

Atalanta crushed Cagliari 5-2 in their first game in Bergamo this season, bringing their tally to 13 goals in three games played.

Luis Muriel opened the scoring after seven minutes with Papu Gomez blasting in the second from a distance just before the half hour mark, for his fouth goal in three games.

Uruguayan defender Diego Godin pulled a goal back for Cagliari on his debut since moving from Inter.

But Mario Pasalic and Duvan Zapata also scored in a five-minute spell before the break, with Sam Lammers completing the rout after Joao Pedro scored.

Joao Pedro reduced the deficit for the Sardinians after the break but Sam Lammers marked his first home game with an impressive solo effort with nine minutes to go.

“The score could have been much bigger,” said Gasperini.

“Now the (international) break interrupts this momentum. Hopefully we’ll pick up where we left off.”

AC Milan beat promote Spezia 3-0 to extend their unbeaten run to 15 games.

Portuguese Rafael Leao scored two-second half goals, the first off a Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick just before the hour.

He competed his brace 12 minutes from time, latching onto a Franck Kessie header, two minutes after Theo Hernandez’s solo effort was rewarded.

It caps an impressive week for Milan who are without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is suffering from coronavirus.

They won an epic 24-kick penalty shootout in the Europa League preliminary round, and extended their unbeaten tun in 15 games in Serie A for the first time since March 2007.

Hellas Verona fell to their first defeat of the season after Jasmin Kurtic scored within the first minute to give Parma a first win this campaign.

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