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Inter leave title door open for Milan after Napoli draw


Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Inter Milan maintained their one-point lead at the top of Serie A on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at title rivals Napoli which gives AC Milan the chance to claim top spot.

Edin Dzeko’s powerful 47th-minute equaliser in a pulsating match was enough for Simone Inzaghi’s team to earn a point in Naples, after Lorenzo Insigne had overtaken Diego Maradona in Napoli’s all-time scoring charts with an early penalty.

Inter were good value for their point after initially being battered from pillar to post, but have left the door open for AC Milan, who are two points behind Inter in third, to take the summit with a win over Sampdoria in Sunday’s early match.

Inter have a game in hand on both their local rivals and Napoli but Saturday’s exciting match showed why Italy’s three-way title race could go down to the wire.

Insigne sent the passionate crowd at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona wild when he slammed home him his seventh minute penalty, his sixth goal of the season and just reward for the asphyxiating early pressure Napoli put on Inter.

His spot-kick came amid chaos as Stefan de Vrij clashed with Victor Osimhen just before Giovanni Di Lorenzo flashed a powerful shot just wide of the upright.

Referee Daniele Doveri was then called by the VAR officials for an on-field review and gave Napoli the penalty which put them ahead.

Four minutes later Piotr Zielinski was the finest of margins from doubling the hosts lead, his effort crashing back out off the post as Napoli laid seige to the Inter goal, with Osimhen going close twice and Insigne hooking a presentable chance over way over after great work from his Nigerian teammate.

Dezko should have drawn Inter level nine minutes from half-time when he limply headed Ivan Perisic’s excellent cross straight at David Ospina, but seconds after the re-start the Bosnian did have his goal.

Completely miscuing another decent headed opportunity, Dzeko was fortunate to see the ball ricochet straight back to him from Di Lorenzo and made no mistake with his right boot, arrowing in the equaliser off the bar.

Inter dominated from that point on without creating many clearcut opportunities against Italy’s best defence, led by the returning Kalidou Koulibaly.

And goalkeeper Samir Handanovic made sure Napoli didn’t nick the win when he threw himself at Eljif Elmas’ feet to stop the Macedonian from netting from close range.

– Lazio eye Champions League –

Mattia Zaccagni struck a second-half brace as Lazio strolled past Bologna 3-0 to close in on Serie A’s Champions League places.

Zaccagni doubled Lazio’s lead in the 53rd minute when he collected Luis Alberto’s through ball and slotted past Lukasz Skorupski, tapping home the third 10 minutes later from Manuel Lazzari’s low cross.

Maurizio Sarri’s side, in sixth, are three points behind Juventus, who hold the final Champions League spot and travel to fifth-placed Atalanta on Sunday night.

Ciro Immobile had opened the scoring from the penalty spot for a dominant Lazio side with 12 minutes on the clock, the 19th goal of the season for Serie A’s leading scorer.

Bologna went closest to scoring seconds after the break when Marko Arnautovic’s neat close-range flick was well kept out by Thomas Strakosha, but that was as good as it got for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side, who sit 13th on 28 points.

The clean sheet was Lazio’s fourth in as many Serie A games, a serious defensive improvement for a team which had been the most porous in the league’s upper reaches.

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