Serie A: Napoli held as Juventus closes gap

Napoli -- after falling 4-2 to Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek -- dropped two points at Chievo and is only a point ahead of Juve.

Napoli's midfielder Piotr Zielinski (left) tussles for the ball with Chievo's midfielder Perparim Hetemaj.   -  AFP

 

Juventus closed the gap at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Benevento on Sunday as leader Napoli was held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Amato Ciciretti's first-half opener for Benevento stunned Juventus before Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado scored after the break to seal three points for the six-time defending champion.

Napoli drew 0-0 in Verona and have 32 points from 12 games, one point ahead of Juventus which move ahead of Inter, now another point back in third.

Despite its battling performance, newcomers Benevento, nicknamed 'Le Streghe' (The Witches), has now lost its first 12 games of the campaign, matching the worst start to a season in any of Europe's big five leagues set by Manchester United in 1930.

"It seemed like a cursed game, but we needed to be calm, sharp and not too hasty," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Benevento looked determined to gatecrash Juve's 120th anniversary celebrations this week when Ciciretti struck from a free-kick that left Wojciech Szczesny helpless -- the first time this season that a team have opened the scoring against the champions.

Higuain got the equaliser after 57 minutes when he met Blaise Matuidi's knockdown with a volley into the top corner, and Cuadrado sealed the victory with a 66th-minute header.

"These games are always complicated," continued Allegri. "Winning games is never easy or to be taken for granted."

Napoli -- after falling 4-2 to Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek -- dropped two points at Chievo, and Inter had to come from behind to draw with Torino.

Inter remains clear of fourth-placed Lazio, however, after the capital club had its match against Udinese in Rome called off at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday afternoon because of heavy rain.

Meanwhile, Roma -- fresh from its midweek 3-0 Champions League rout of Chelsea -- is fifth with a game in hand after a thrilling 4-2 win over Fiorentina in Tuscany, with Brazilian Gerson scoring a first-half brace.

Gerson opened the scoring after just five minutes and added a second at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on the half-hour mark after Jordan Veretout had equalised.

Giovanni Simeone pulled Fiorentina level at 2-2, but Kostas Manolas scored five minutes after the break and Diego Perotti sealed victory for Roma three minutes from time.

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