Napoli stumble against Sassuolo, miss chance to overtake Juventus

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Reggio Emilia (Italy) April 1 (IANS) Napoli played a 1-1 draw against host Sassuolo in the 30th round of Serie A action and could lose ground to league-leading Juventus by the end of the day.

Second-placed Napoli had the opportunity to provisionally leapfrog Juventus in the standings but those hopes were dented when it conceded a first-half goal by Matteo Politano here on Saturday, reports Efe.

With ten minutes to go before the second-half stoppage time, Napoli drew level on a goal that was credited to Jose Callejon but appeared to last touch Brazilian defender Rogerio Oliveira Da Silva.

The visitors could have taken the lead on a pair of scoring opportunities early on at Mapei Stadium by Lorenzo Insigne, but instead Sassuolo made the most of one of the few opportunities it created to break the scoreless deadlock 22 minutes into the game.

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On the play, Federico Peluso’s header ricocheted off the woodwork but Politano was there to put the ball home.

After the intermission, Napoli struggled to penetrate Sassuolo’s defence, while Domenico Berardi squandered a close-range chance to double the home side’s lead.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri inserted Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik to boost his team’s attack, a move that gave his team more offensive punch down the final stretch.

Napoli’s efforts paid off in the 80th minute, when a cross from Mario Rui appeared to go into the goal off Rogerio. Officials, however, credited Spanish striker Jose Callejon with the score.

The visitors then went all out for the winner and nearly took the lead on a bicycle kick by Milik that struck the crossbar of the wide-open goal.

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Despite the draw, Napoli still has a firm grasp on the second spot and is just one point behind six-time defending Serie A champions Juventus, which is taking on A.C. Milan on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, Sampdoria took a 1-0 lead on a penalty successfully converted by Fabio Quagliarella, but Chievo struck twice on goals by Lucas Nahuel Castro and Perparim Hetemaj for a come-from-behind 2-1 win.

–IANS

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