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Albiol keeps Napoli’s Serie A title hopes burning

Hamsik limps off with a thigh injury

Image Credit: Reuters
Napoli’s Raul Albiol celebrates after scoring their first goal against Genoa in a Serie A game at Stadio San Paolo.
Gulf News

Rome: Spanish defender Raul Albiol headed in the winner as a 1-0 victory over Genoa on Sunday 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 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 at the Stadio San Paolo.

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

Inter’s win pushed Lazio outside the Champions League places into fifth, after the Romans were held 1-1 at home by Bologna.

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