Serie A: Napoli handed title lifeline, throw it away a day later

Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
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ROME (AP) Napoli’s title hopes were dealt a severe blow with a 3-0 loss at Fiorentina on Sunday that leaves Juventus with a clear path toward a record-extending seventh straight Serie A championship.

Napoli played most of the match with 10 men after Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off for a last-man foul on Giovanni Simeone, who went on to score a hat trick.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri called it his squad’s “worst match of the season.”

After Koulibaly’s red card and Fiorentina’s first goal “we were completely lost,” Sarri said. “Over the course of the season we’ve done well to handle these types of problems but today we didn’t.”

Napoli was left four points behind Juventus with three matches to play – the same gap which existed until the Partenopei beat Juventus a week ago.

Juventus produced two goals in the final four minutes of a 3-2 win at 10-man Inter Milan on Saturday.

However, Juventus will have to overcome an injury to striker Mario Mandzukic, who had 10 stitches applied to a deep cut in his left ankle after getting stepped on by Matias Vecino against Inter.

In Florence, Koulibaly was first shown a yellow and a penalty was awarded since the referee believed the foul had occurred inside the area. But after VAR help, the referee ruled that the foul had occurred outside the area and changed the card from yellow to red.

Simeone, the son of Atletico Madrid coach and former Argentina international Diego Simeone, finished off a counterattack later in the first half by shooting under the legs of goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Then after the hour mark, Simeone was quickest to a rebound following a corner and scored from close range. He then added another from a counterattack in the 90th, running past a confused Mario Rui for his 13th of the season.

“Clearly, having an extra man after eight minutes was a huge advantage,” Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli said. “We had the right ideas even with 11 against 11, but we should have scored more goals earlier on.

“We knew Napoli could be dangerous, so we tried to pass the ball and never stopped pressing,” Pioli added. “There’s no such thing as a perfect performance, but I think we came pretty close.”

Fiorentina is ninth, four points below the Europa League spots.


AC Milan ended a five-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Bologna to revive its pursuit of a Europa League spot.

Hakan Calhanoglu and Giacomo Bonaventura scored in the first half for the Rossoneri, which had lost two and drawn three since beating Chievo in mid-March.

Milan remained one point behind sixth-place Atalanta, which beat Genoa 3-1, in the fight for the last Europa League spot.

Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso didn’t give his squad any days off this week following a 1-0 loss at home against Bologna last weekend, acknowledging that the club had “touched bottom.”

Calhanoglu was set up by Patrick Cutrone to score from beyond the area in the 34th.

Bologna thought it had equalized four minutes later but what would have been Riccardo Orsolini’s first Serie A goal was waved off by the VAR for a handball in the buildup by Rodrigo Palacio.

Bonaventura then took advantage of a defensive mistake and fooled his marker before firing in an angled shot.

Sebastian De Maio pulled one back for Bologna with a header after the break.

Musa Barrow, Bryan Cristante and Josip Ilicic scored for Atalanta.

Lazio won 1-0 at Torino to stay level on points with third-place Roma and on course for a Champions League berth.

Roma and Lazio are each four points ahead of Inter.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored with a header early in the second half for Lazio after Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu saved an early penalty from Luis Alberto.