ROME: Napoli’s 10-match winning streak in Serie A came to an end on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) when they slumped to a shock 4-2 home defeat to AS Roma as the leaders suffered just their second league loss this season.
The result kept Napoli on top of the table but their lead is now just one point after Juventus earlier defeated Lazio courtesy of an injury-time strike from Paulo Dybala.
Juventus, crucially, also have a game in hand — at home against Atalanta in 10 days’ time.
“There were a lot of positives in this game,” insisted Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri whose only other league loss this season had been at home to Juventus in December.
“We had 27 shots so we are just trying to figure out how Roma scored so easily. We are sorry for our great crowd but the tifosi know that we always give our maximum.”
When Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli the lead from close range after six minutes it seemed the evening would be straightforward.
But Turkey’s Cengiz Under levelled just a minute later with a deflected shot.
That set the stage for Edin Dzeko to carve out a little bit of personal history.
He made it 2-1 in the 26th minute with a header from an Alessandro Florenzi cross before he curled in a terrific left-foot strike from the edge of the area in the 79th minute for 3-1.
That goal allowed the Bosnian striker to become the first player to score at least 50 goals in three of Europe’s major leagues — Italy’s Serie A, the German Bundesliga and the Premier League in England.
Diego Perotti made it 4-1 ten minutes from time after pouncing on a lazy clearance from on-loan Roma left-back Mario Rui.
Dries Mertens pulled one back for Napoli in time added-on but the three points allowed Roma to move into third place in the table, albeit 16 points behind the pacesetters.
Back with a bang
Argentina striker Dybala marked his comeback after a month on the sidelines by scoring a last-gasp winner in Juve’s 1-0 victory at Lazio in a perfect boost ahead of next week’s Champions League clash at Tottenham.
Dybala, left out of the Argentine squad this week, shrugged off his rustiness by pouncing in the third minute of injury time.
Lazio, now down in fourth spot in the table, a point back from Roma, had already defeated Juventus twice this season in the Italian Super Cup and Serie A.
They looked to be hanging on for a point until Dybala, out for a month with a thigh injury, scored a memorable goal when he held off a Marco Parolo challenge before driving the ball past Thomas Strakosha in the Lazio goal.
Juventus will now travel to London for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash after a 2-2 draw in Turin in February.
“I didn’t know if I was meant to play 90 minutes, as it was my first start and we have a big game on Wednesday,” Dybala told Sky Sports Italia.
“I felt good and got the goal. But we must improve our technique in London and come out stronger in the first half.”
Saturday’s game also saw Juve keep a clean sheet for the 18th time in their last 20 matches in all competitions, including in 10 of 11 since the turn of the year.
The only side to score against them in 2018 was Tottenham.