Unexpected Napoli loss could move up Juve celebration
ROME (AP) — Napoli’s unexpected loss means Juventus is only two wins away from clinching a record-extending eighth straight Serie A title.
Injury-depleted Napoli was beaten 2-1 at relegation-threatened Empoli on Wednesday.
Juventus, which won 2-0 at Cagliari on Tuesday in a match marred by racism , leads Napoli by 18 points with eight rounds remaining and the Bianconeri hold the tiebreaker, too.
If Juventus beats AC Milan on Saturday and Napoli lose again to Genoa a day later, Juventus could clinch the title this weekend.
Napoli, which visits Arsenal in the Europa League quarterfinals next week, has a long list of injured players: Lorenzo Insigne, Faouzi Ghoulam, David Ospina, Amadou Diawara, Raul Albiol and Vlad Chiriches.
Piotr Zielinski equalized with a long-range blast before the break and didn’t celebrate — as promised — against his former club.
An uncharacteristic defensive lapse contributed to Empoli’s winner, as Giovanni Di Lorenzo was left unmarked to head in from a corner.
Empoli could have had another but Meret did well to rush forward and deny Farias on a counterattack.
“Today we lacked both our heads and our legs,” Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It was a deserved defeat.”
Empoli moved one point above the drop zone.
Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi quickly made an impact on his return from a nearly two-month long standoff over protracted contract negotiations .
After Roberto Gagliardini put Inter ahead, Icardi earned and converted a penalty and assisted on the third goal in a 4-0 win at Genoa that strengthened Inter’s hold on third place and a Champions League spot.
Icardi had already hit the post when he was pulled down inside the area by Cristian Romero, drawing a red card for the defender. Icardi then calmly converted the spot kick when goalkeeper Andrei Radu went the other way.
After the break, Icardi provided a perfect pass to set up a goal for Ivan Perisic.
Gagliardini then added another with a header that was confirmed by goal-line technology.