Napoli struggles to 3-2 win at Spal, ahead of Turin derby

Roma's Edin Dzeko scores a goal during an Italian Serie A soccer match between Roma and Udinese, at the Olympic stadium in Rome, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

MILAN (AP) Napoli stayed perfect in Serie A only after struggling to subdue promoted side Spal 3-2 on Saturday.

Algeria left back Faouzi Ghoulam was the unlikely match-winner seven minutes from time, with a run from the halfway line.

Juventus was also looking to remain perfect when it hosted city rival Torino in the Derby della Mole later.

Spal lost its previous three matches but took a surprise lead early when Mirco Antenucci rolled the ball across for Pasquale Schiattarella, who is from Naples, to smash it into the bottom left corner.

The home side’s lead lasted only 77 seconds. Lorenzo Insigne curled an effort inside the near post from just inside the area.

Spal was causing Napoli problems but it was the visitors who took the lead in the 71st when Jose Callejon headed in Ghoulam’s cross.

Federico Viviani put Spal back on level terms seven minutes later with a free kick but Ghoulam scored what was to be the winner shortly after, finishing off a fantastic run by cutting inside and curling into the bottom right corner.


Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice as Roma eased past Udinese 3-1 at home to keep up the pressure on Napoli and Juventus.

All the Roma goals came in the first half, with El Shaarawy pouncing after Edin Dzeko’s opener.

Capital side Roma has played a match less than most Serie A teams coming into the weekend, as its fixture at Sampdoria was postponed because of bad weather.

Dzeko seems determined to retain the Serie A top goalscorer award he won last year and he opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

Radja Nainggolan rode three challenges and managed to get the ball to Dzeko, who slotted into the bottom left corner for his fifth goal in three matches.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina forward turned provider on the half hour when he sent in a low cross for El Shaarawy to coolly flick into the roof of the net.

El Shaarawy doubled his tally on the stroke of halftime, taking advantage of confusion in the Udinese defense to finish off a counterattack he had started.

Udinese defender Jens Stryger Larsen appeared to have time to clear Diego Perotti’s cross but he hesitated in front of goal and El Shaarawy snuck up behind him to fire it into the net.

Roma could have extended its lead right at the end but Perotti’s penalty came off the left post after the Argentina defender had been tripped by Gabriele Angella.

Udinese, which had earlier hit the crossbar, got a late consolation through Larsen.

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