Thursday, April 18, 2019

Napoli 1 Genoa 1: Draw leaves Juve´s title party on hold

SoccerNews in Serie A 7 Apr 2019

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Juventus’ title celebrations were delayed for at least a week as Napoli kept their slim Scudetto hopes alive with a 1-1 home draw against a 10-man Genoa.

Dries Mertens’ fine first-half finish ensured Carlo Ancelotti’s men did enough to temporarily prevent the Bianconeri from being crowned champions for the seventh successive season, but the failure to turn one point into three will be a keen source of frustration.

The hosts looked set to cruise to victory when Belgium international Mertens broke the deadlock six minutes after Stefano Sturaro’s sending off for a crude tackle on Allan.

Genoa, though, hit back through Darko Lazovic in the shadows of half-time and battled bravely for a result that lifts them further away from relegation danger.

Napoli, runners-up to Juve last season, appeared nervous in the early stages as their former forward Goran Pandev threatened on three occasions inside the opening 20 minutes.

Genoa lost momentum when ex-Juve midfielder Sturaro saw red for his late, lunging challenge in the 28th minute and the hosts took advantage through Mertens’ splendid curling finish into the bottom-right corner.

An unexpected twist came three minutes into first-half stoppage time as Lazovic rewarded Genoa’s persistence, the 28-year-old volleying home from Pandev’s intelligent cross to the far post.

Piotr Zielinski passed up a good chance to restore Napoli’s leader soon after the interval before Ionut Radu blocked a dangerous Arkadiusz Milik header.

Romania gloveman Radu later denied both Kalidou Koulibaly and Mertens as Napoli’s increasingly desperate attempts to manufacture a winner went unrequited.

Their next league assignment is a trip to Chievo in seven days’ time, but Juve can wrap up the title before then by winning at struggling SPAL on Saturday.

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