Serie A: Napoli wins after tumultuous week
MILAN (AP) — Napoli bounced back from a week of turmoil to beat 10-man Hellas Verona 3-0 on Sunday in Serie A to restore some much-needed confidence to the team.
A shock 3-1 defeat at Udinese last weekend saw Napoli fall six points behind league leader Juventus and left it without coach Maurizio Sarri and star striker Gonzalo Higuain for the match against Verona as the pair sat out bans.
Sarri will return to the bench next week while Higuain is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against his four-match ban. Napoli canceled Sarri's pre-match news conference Saturday and continued its media blackout to avoid creating more controversy ahead of the appeal hearing.
Higuain's replacement, Manolo Gabbiadini, opened the scoring and Lorenzo Insigne doubled Napoli's lead from the penalty spot after Samuel Souprayen was sent off in first-half stoppage time.
Both also hit the post early.
Jose Callejon sealed the win for Napoli.
It had also been a difficult week for Lazio, which fired coach Stefano Pioli after a 4-1 derby defeat against Roma and replaced him with youth team coach Simone Inzaghi.
Miroslav Klose scored twice in a 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Palermo, with the match halted in each half after Palermo fans threw fireworks from the stands.
The match was suspended for slightly longer in the second period — for nearly five minutes — after one of the fireworks exploded seconds after Lazio midfielder Antonio Candreva ran past it.
Palermo fans also threw seats onto the pitch before the situation improved. There had been trouble between both sets of fans earlier in the day in Sicily.
Earlier, Fiorentina lost 2-0 at Empoli to damage its hopes of qualifying for the Champions League. It is seven points behind third-place Roma, which hosts Bologna on Monday. Six rounds remain.
Reports have linked Fiorentina coach Paolo Sousa with Zenit St. Petersburg and the Russian club's sporting director was in the stands.
"It's normal, there are always sporting directors at the stadium," Sousa said. "But the rumors of the past few days haven't distracted us. I'm more concerned about the results, the club has told me they want to continue with me. Now we want to return to winning ways like we did in the first half of the season."
Elsewhere, Udinese lost 2-0 at Sampdoria while Torino beat Atalanta 2-1.
Last-place Verona had a surprise 1-0 victory at Bologna last weekend and was desperately looking for more points.
Napoli hit the woodwork twice within the first 15 minutes as Insigne's free kick came off the left upright before an effort from Gabbiadini smacked the same post.
Verona goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini denied Gabbiadini twice with good saves and Callejon also had a goal ruled out for offside shortly before the half-hour.
Gabbiadini finally beat Gollini in the 33rd minute, heading in the rebound after the Verona 'keeper parried Callejon's strike from another delightful pass from Marek Hamsik.
Napoli doubled its tally with almost the last kick of the half after Callejon was brought down when he was through on goal by a clumsy challenge by Souprayen.
Gollini guessed right but couldn't prevent Insigne's penalty from going into the left side of the net.
Callejon scored Napoli's third in the 70th, tapping in from seven yards after substitute Omar El Kaddouri — who had just replaced Gabbiadini — cut the ball back from the byline.
Empoli hadn't won the Tuscan derby in nearly 19 years but took the lead four minutes from halftime when Manuel Pucciarelli collected a poor clearance from Facundo Roncaglia and drew Gonzalo Rodriguez to him before slotting past Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Nikola Kalinic had an equalizer disallowed for offside before Piotr Zielinski sealed the match two minutes from time, firing home the rebound after Tatarusanu had denied Pucciarelli.