Napoli title dreams hit with Sassuolo stalemate


Milan (AFP)

Napoli missed a golden opportunity to move top of Serie A with a 1-1 draw at strugglers Sassuolo to give champions Juventus the chance to pull clear later Saturday against AC Milan.

Matteo Politano put Sassuolo ahead after 22 minutes with Maurizio Sarri's side proving wasteful before earning a point through a Rogerio own goal with ten minutes to go.

Napoli -- who have won just one of their last four games -- are now one point behind six-time defending champions Juventus who can extend their advantage to four points by the end of the night.

Andrea Consigli proved solid in the Sassuolo goal, saving a Lorenzo Insigne effort from point-blank range before Rogerio turned a Mario Rui cross into his own net.

Sassuolo remain four points above the relegation zone after following last week's win against Udinese with a crucial point.

Earlier, Mauro Icardi scored a brace in a 3-0 win over Verona as Inter Milan closed in on third-placed Roma who were held 1-1 by Bologna.

Substitute Edin Dzeko rescued Roma who were also hit by a Radja Nainggolan injury that could compromise their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona in Spain midweek.

Eusebio Di Francesco's Roma have 60 points from 30 games, but their grip on third is threatened by Inter who edged two points behind.

Lazio are a further point back just outside the Champions League places for next season in fifth after surviving a scare to thrash rock-bottom Benevento 6-2.

Dzeko headed in after 76 minutes at the Stadio Dall'Ara after Erick Pulgar had given Bologna the lead on 18 minutes.

"We are going into a very important match, we all had our thoughts on Barcelona a little bit, but even then we had chances and could have scored more," said Dzeko.

Roma lacked speed against a Bologna side which included Di Francesco's son Federico, with third-choice goalkeeper Antonio Santurro proving the unlikely hero for the home side.

Santurro was appearing in first Serie A game with Antonio Mirante suspended and understudy Angelo Da Costa injured.

And the 26-year-old did well on his debut keeping out an early Patrik Schick strike, followed by a Daniele De Rossi header from the resulting corner.

Nainggolan limped off after just 16 minutes with a muscular problem, and looks a doubt to face Barcelona.

Two minutes later Bologna were ahead, Pulgar picking up a poor clearance on the edge of the box to fire past Alisson.

Santurro denied Stephan El Shaarawy, with Kevin Strootman missing the chance to equalise when alone in front of goal.

But Dzeko replaced El Shaarawy with half an hour to go and got his head to Argentine winger Diego Perotti's cross to fire past Santurro.

- Barcelona 'totally different' -

"We know that if we play like that against Barcelona, it won't be enough," said Di Francesco. "But we also know that Barca will attack. It will be a totally different match."

Icardi, meanwhile, earned a standing ovation from the 60,000 crowd at the San Siro after bringing his tally of Serie A goals to 105.

The Argentine -- who scored four in a 5-0 win over Sampdoria last time out -- continued where he left off, bagging the first after 38 seconds from an Ivan Perisic throw-in.

Perisic added a second on 13 minutes, with Icardi sliding in the third after the restart for a confidence boost ahead of next Wednesday's Milan derby against AC Milan.

"I'm happy for my fastest goal in my career," said Icardi. "It was the perfect day, not for goals, but because the team won. We go into the derby with the right frame of mind.

"We're aware that we have to do well because there is little time to reach the goal of going to the Champions League."

Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile also netted a double as Lazio fought back after going 2-1 behind to 10-man Benevento, nabbing five goals in the last half-hour.