It would only be fair to say that even on a weekend of missed chances, Juventus still somehow managed to emerge the biggest winners. Despite only drawing 1-1 away at Udinese on Sunday, Juventus continue to remain perched, and quite settled, on top of the Serie A table. In what was their first draw in the league this year, Juventus had to fight hard against 14th placed Udinese, who managed to salvage some hope for the Bianconeri’s title rivals Roma and Napoli, who played earlier on Saturday.
Leonardo Bonucci had considerable role in both the goals in the game; having been outmuscled by Udinese’s Duvan Zapata who subsequently scored for the hosts and then equalising in the second half to salvage a point for the defending champions.
Following Roma’s home defeat to Napoli on Saturday, Juventus might have regrets over not extending their lead at the top. But considering their sheer dominance in Italy over the last five years, even the most hard-lined skeptic might not place the odds against Juventus.
Earlier on Saturday, Roma and Napoli played out a thrilling contest with the latter emerging victorious for the first time at Roma’s Stadio Olimpico since November 2014. With a double by in-form Belgian Dries Mertens, Napoli sneaked past Roma with a 2-1 victory which delivered a massive blow to Roma’s title challenge, though putting Napoli within two points of the Gialorossi. Kevin Strootman’s goal gave Roma some glimmer of hope late in the game followed by a flurry of late chances. However, Napoli held on to their lead and edged out a narrow, yet crucial, victory over their title rivals. For Roma, as the season draws closer to a finish, Juventus’ stalemate at Udinese might be a very crucial point in their title bid. But then again had they managed a victory on Saturday, the gap between Roma and Juventus would have been closed down to five points, a regret on their part.
A few places down the league table, the race for European places became tighter than ever. With the exception of Atalanta, all teams in race for Europa League spots won over the weekend, with just three points separating seventh placed AC Milan and fourth placed Lazio.
In the late game on Sunday, Lazio leapfrogged Atalanta with a 2-0 away win at Bologna. Ciro Immobile scored both goals for Simone Inzaghi’s side as they moved into fourth place and within four points of the third Champions League spot. Earlier on Sunday, Atalanta’s winning run came to an end as they were held to a goalless draw at home by Fiorentina. They now sit at fifth position, one point behind Lazio and one point ahead of Inter Milan. On Sunday, both Milan teams managed victories as well. A double by Colombian Carlos Bacca gave AC Milan a 3-1 win over mid-table Chievo Verona, continuing their push for a Europa league place. City rivals Inter meanwhile recorded a resounding 5-1 victory over Cagliari with a brace by Croat Ivan Perisic. Club captain Mauro Icardi also notched up his 17th goal for the season. The result now propels the race for European spots into steady motion.
Results: Roma 1-2 Napoli; Sampdoria 3-1 Pescara; AC Milan 3-1 Chievo Verona; Atalanta 0-0 Fiorentina; Cagliari 1-5 Inter Milan; Torino 3-1 Palermo; Empoli 0-2 Genoa; Udinese 1-1 Juventus; Crotone 0-0 Sassuolo; Bologna 0-2 Lazio.