Italian Serie A Roundup, Apr. 17
Napoli faces a mountain to climb to win its first Serie A title since 1990 after missing a late penalty in a 2-1 loss to Udinese on Sunday.
Gokhan Inler and German Denis scored the goals that leaves Napoli trailing leader AC Milan by six points with five rounds remaining.
With three minutes to go and his team trailing 2-0, Napoli striker Edinson Cavani hit a weak penalty that Samir Handanovic saved. Maurizio Domizzi was sent off for conceding the spot kick when he hauled down Christian Lucarelli.
Napoli forward Giuseppe Mascara swept home a loose ball in injury time to score, but Udinese held on for the win.
"The title is won by a team that has developed over a number of years and we have only come together this season," Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said. "Sure Cavani missed a crucial penalty, but this loss doesn't undo all the hard work we've done up to now.
"There is a strong team ahead of us and there are still five games to play. I think we played well today. Udinese only had three chances and scored twice."
Lazio remains three points behind third-place Inter Milan in fourth after winning 4-1 at Catania. Udinese is a point behind Lazio.
"It will be difficult to catch Inter," Lazio coach Edy Reja said. "But they said it would be difficult to beat Catania and we are feeling good physically and mentally."
Udinese showed its attacking intent early on when Denis, a former Napoli striker, forced Morgan De Sanctis into a sharp save.
Napoli hit back and Cavani went close with two chances the went narrowly wide.
Handanovic then kept Udinese in the match when he tipped Ezequiel Lavezzi's close-range volley over the bar to ensure his team was still in contention at halftime.
Inler opened the scoring 10 minutes into the second with a long-range shot that gave De Sanctis little chance.
Six minutes, Denis doubled the lead when he controlled Pablo Armero's cross and shot past De Sanctis.
Napoli tried its best to respond and Walter Gargano shot wide from long range. Christian Maggio then hit the bar with a header before Cavani missed with the penalty.
"It was very important we showed what we could do tonight," Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin said. "I'm especially pleased for German Denis, who has had to wait behind Antonio Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez for his chance in the team."
For Lazio Hernanes scored his ninth goal of the season to open the scoring, just before halftime, but Ezequiel Schelotto equalized early in the second period.
Lazio's Mauro Zarate then took control of proceedings and set up Stefano Mauri and Sergio Floccari for goals, before he whipped in a free kick for Lazio's fourth in the 89th.
"It was a good result and I have to be pleased with it, but we still have five matches remaining," Reja said. "I'm pleased with how we played. Now we need to play like that in all our remaining games."
At the bottom of the table Cesena moved out of the Serie A relegation zone with a 1-0 win at home against Bari on Sunday.
Erjon Bogdani got the only goal to move Cesena to 17th place, two points ahead of Sampdoria.
After a quiet first half, Cesena scored early in the second. Emanuele Giaccherini slipped the ball beyond Bari's defense and Bogdani ran on and poked it past Jean-Francois Gillet.
Brescia slipped further behind in its efforts to escape the drop with a 3-0 defeat at Genoa. Rafinha scored the opener in the 59th, followed by an own goal from Gaetano Berardi 11 minutes later.
Luca Antonelli also scored in the 90th.
Brescia is two points behind Sampdoria, with Bari nine points adrift at the bottom of the table.
Also Sunday, Chievo Verona beat Bologna 2-0, Fiorentina drew 0-0 with Juventus and Lecce tied 3-3 with Cagliari.