Juventus was held to a 0-0 draw at Udinese and missed the opportunity to open up a nine-point advantage at the top of Serie A on Sunday, while Napoli closed the gap on second-placed Roma by beating Chievo Verona 2-1.
MILAN (AP) — Juventus was held to a 0-0 draw at Udinese and missed the opportunity to open up a nine-point advantage at the top of Serie A on Sunday, while Napoli closed the gap on second-placed Roma by beating Chievo Verona 2-1.
Juventus came into the game knowing it could extend its lead following Roma's 1-1 draw against Empoli on Saturday, but struggled and it was Udinese that created the better chances.
Massimiliano Allegri's men came closest when Roberto Pereyra, who is on loan from Udinese, hit the crossbar.
"It was a fair result," Allegri said. "We played badly in the first half. We gave the ball away and also risked conceding two or three times. Our difficulties stemmed from the fact that we had three defenders and (Andrea) Pirlo passing the ball and everyone else up near their area.
"We improved in the second half, getting the ball and men further forward toward their area. There are still many points up for grabs and we need to try and gain as many as possible, because points aren't enough to win the league."
Juventus was seven points ahead of Roma, with Napoli four points further back.
Elsewhere, there were setbacks for Lazio and Sampdoria in their bids for the final Champions League berth. The capital side lost 2-1 at relegation-threatened Cesena, which had only won two matches this season — both against Parma.
Sampdoria was thrashed 5-1 at Torino with Fabio Quagliarella scoring a hat trick against his old club to spoil Samuel Eto'o's debut.
Lazio and Samp remained level on points, five behind Napoli.
Inter Milan lost 3-1 at Sassuolo, prompting a row between the visiting fans and two of their players, while in the evening match, Jeremy Menez starred again as AC Milan beat bottom club Parma 3-1 for its first win of 2015.
Mauricio Pinilla scored a magnificent scissor-kick volley in stoppage time against his former club to help Atalanta beat fellow struggler Cagliari 2-1. Palermo beat Hellas Verona by the same scoreline.
Juventus was looking for its fourth consecutive victory but was hampered by a solid Udinese performance, led by a battling Allan in midfield, who consistently got the better of Paul Pogba.
Carlos Tevez had a great chance to snatch the win late on after he was set up by Pogba, but sent his effort wide of the left post from 12 yards.
Napoli was looking for a third consecutive win and Rafa Benitez's side took the lead in bizarre circumstances in the 18th minute.
Manolo Gabbiadini beat the offside trap to race clear through on goal and Albano Bizzarri rushed out to clear but only succeeded in sending the ball off Bostjan Cesar's face and into the empty net.
Chievo leveled with another own goal seven minutes later when Rafael went to punch a cross but the ball ricocheted off Miguel Angel Britos and Sergio Pellissier and into the back of the net from close range. The league officially called it a Britos own goal.
Gabbiadini scored what was to prove the winner shortly after the hour mark, controlling Ivan Strinic's cross and rifling it into the bottom left corner for his first goal since joining from Sampdoria.
At San Siro, both clubs were in crisis, although Parma was in very much the worse situation.
Menez opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Cristian Zaccardo's header hit Cristian Rodriguez's arm but former Milan striker Antonio Nocerino leveled for the visitors.
Menez restored Milan's lead with his 12th league goal after good work from Alessio Cerci before Zaccardo, who had earlier had a goal ruled out, sealed the result.
Alex also hit the woodwork for Milan as did new signing Mattia Destro.
Sassuolo had never even scored a goal against Inter and had been thrashed 7-0 in two of their past three meetings.
But it was 2-0 up at halftime following brilliant strikes from Simone Zaza and Nicola Sansone.
New Inter signing Xherdan Shaqiri hit the post before Mauro Icardi gave the visitors hope when he pulled one back seven minutes from time but Domenico Berardi sealed the result in stoppage time from the penalty spot.
Young Inter defender Isaac Donkor was shown a second yellow in that incident and dismissed. Sampdoria was also down to 10 men after Sansone was sent off for a foul on Shaqiri.
Trouble continued after the final whistle with Inter players Mauro Icardi and Fredy Guarin getting into a furious row with their own fans — who threw their jerseys back at them.