Napoli blow chance to go top of Serie A

Napoli squandered a chance to go top of Serie A when they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Fiorentina last night.

Leaders Inter Milan's 0-0 stalemate with Juventus yesterday morning (Singapore time) had presented a chance for second-placed Napoli to overtake the Nerazzurri, but Maurizio Sarri's men couldn't take advantage of it.

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Defending champions Juventus remain third, two points behind Inter, who could be considered fortunate to escape the Allianz Stadium with a point.

Their dominant hosts had created a series of chances, most of which were created by lively right winger Juan Cuadrado and wasted by Mario Mandzukic.

Inter started the game well but created nothing of note, and as the match wore on, the away side sank further back into their own half, and were lucky to escape with a point.

"Leaving Turin with a point and a clean sheet is positive," said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti. "The first 30 minutes were very good up until the final third.

"I thought we had the potential to do more, but we gave the ball away because we weren't determined enough in the second half.

"We almost seemed to rest on our laurels and be content with just keeping possession."

Despite Inter's early dominance, Mandzukic could have given Juve the lead as early as the eighth minute when a Cuadrado cross wormed its way through a crowd of defenders, but the Croat shot straight at Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic from close range.

An unfortunate Mandzukic went closer than anyone did to scoring just before the end of a tight first half, meeting another cross from his Colombian teammate only to see his powerful header hit the crossbar.

The second half continued as the first ended, but Juve couldn't capitalise on a wobbling Inter team that was struggling to get out of its own half, with the excellent Handanovic on hand to repel the hosts when they didn't fluff chances on their own.

Mandzukic, Juve's freshest player after missing the 2-0 win at Olympiakos that secured their place in the Champions League last 16, had the best opportunity to win the match with just eight minutes left.

He was found alone in the area with space to shoot, but he slipped before he could pull the trigger and Inter escaped with a precious point. - WIRE SERVICES


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