Abiol goal keeps Napoli in title hunt

Spanish defender Raul Albiol headed in the winner as a 1-0 victory over Genoa yesterday morning (Singapore time) kept Napoli's Serie A title hopes alive, closing the gap on leaders Juventus to two points.

Juventus' march towards a seventh consecutive Italian title was stalled on Saturday by a goalless draw at struggling SPAL.

And Napoli seized the opportunity to revive their bid for a first league crown since 1990, after a 4-2 defeat by AS Roma and a goalless draw at Inter Milan in their last two games had put Juve in control.

Maurizio Sarri's side were pushed hard, with Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens both hitting the woodwork before Albiol broke through after 72 minutes.

"This was an important game, we were coming back from two matches without a win," said Napoli coach Sarri.

"At this stage last season, Juventus had basically already won the title, so this means we are causing them real problems.

"This is already the second-best campaign in Napoli's history in terms of points, so we'll keep pushing."

Sarri added that the international break had come at just the right time for tired Napoli captain Marek Hamsik, who limped off with a thigh injury after 20 minutes.

Behind the leading pair in the battle for Champions League football next season, Roma consolidated third place - 14 points behind Napoli - with a 2-0 win over Crotone.

Inter moved fourth - four points behind Roma - following a 5-0 rout of Sampdoria with Mauro Icardi scoring four to break through the 100-goal mark in Serie A. - AFP