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Juventus keep pressure on Napoli in Serie A

  • Published at 10:21 am December 24th, 2017
Juventus keep pressure on Napoli in Serie A
Champion Juventus kept pace with Serie A leader Napoli Saturday after a hard-fought 1-0 win over title-rival AS Roma with Inter Milan suffering a second consecutive defeat. Moroccan Medhi Benatia scored the only goal against his former club after 18 minutes in Turin. Juve remain one point behind Napoli - who have 45 from 18 games - with Inter Milan five points adrift in third after losing 1-0 at Sassuolo, and Roma in fourth. It was the first time that Roma have trailed this season away but Eusebio di Francesco's side could not find a way back, despite almost equalising in injury time when Patrik Schick hit the crossbar. Juve also had chances to increase their advantage with Gonzalo Higuain wasteful and Miralem Pjanic's stoppage time effort cleared by Alisson by the tip of his fingers. Earlier Marek Hamsik scored his 116th goal to overtake Diego Maradona as Napoli's all-time record scorer, at the same time sealing a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Sampdoria. Napoli were trailing twice in the first half with Gaston Ramirez firing in a free-kick after just two minutes to catch Pepe Reina off guard. But Allan equalised after a quarter of an hour at San Paolo Stadium only for Fabio Quagliarella to convert a penalty to restore Sampdoria's lead after 27 minutes. Lorenzo Insigne marked his comeback from injury with a volley on 33 minutes following a Dries Mertens flicked cross. But it was captain Hamsik who sealed victory six minutes before the break, again off a Mertens cross, and Napoli held on despite Mario Rui's sending off. Despite their remarkable start to the season, Inter have taken just a single point from their last three matches, with back-to-back losses to Udinese and Sassuolo. Diego Falcinelli headed in the only goal after 34 minutes at Mapei Stadium, with goalkeeper Andrea Consigli saving a penalty from leading Serie A scorer Mauro Icardi. Luciano Spalletti's side are third but just two points ahead of Roma, who have played a game less. Lazio, also with a game in hand, are two points off Roma after easing past Crotone 4-0. But things have gone from bad to worse for Chinese-owned Milan who lost to direct European rival Atalanta, who are in seventh position. Milan's training retreat after last week's shock defeat by Verona had little effect on Gennaro Gattuso's side. Former Milan midfielder Bryan Cristante opened after a Gianluigi Donnarumma error in the first half with Josip Ilicic finishing off the second on 71 minutes. Sparks should fly Wednesday with AC Milan and Inter Milan meeting in an Italian Cup quarter-final derby clash in the San Siro. RESULTS Lazio 4 (Lukaku 55, Immobile 78, Lulic 86, Anderson 89) Crotone 0 Genoa 1 (Lapadula 90+2-P) Benevento 0 SPAL 2 (Viviani 42, Antenucci 69-P) Torino 2 (Falqué 1, 10) Sassuolo 1 (Falcinelli 34) Inter 0 Udinese 4 (Barák 27, 68, Widmer 44, Lasagna 80) Verona 0 Napoli 3 (Allan 16, Insigne 33, Hamsik 39) Sampdoria 2 (Ramirez 2, Quagliarella 27-P) Milan 0 Atalanta 2 (Cristante 32, Ilicic 71) Juventus 1 (Benatia 18) Roma 0
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