Juventus spurn chance for nine-point Serie A lead

AFP , Sunday 1 Feb 2015

Juventus' Paul Pogba, left, and Udinese's Ivan Piris vie for the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Juventus at the Friuli Stadium in Udine, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Juventus spurned the chance to go nine points clear of title challengers Roma in a scoreless draw away to Udinese on Sunday, as Napoli crept closer to second place in Serie A.

Roma's fourth consecutive draw on Saturday had left Juventus the chance to pull nine points clear of the Giallorossi.

But on a day of several surprises in Italy's top flight, Udinese held on to end a six-game losing streak to the Turin giants to leave them seven points clear of Roma.

Meanwhile Rafael Benitez's Napoli held on for a precious 2-1 win at Chievo to finish as the only top five side to take all three points, tightening their grip on third place to now sit just four behind Roma, who were held 1-1 by Empoli on Saturday.

Both Sampdoria and Lazio saw their respective bids for a third-place finish dented by respective defeats to Torino and Cesena.

Samuel Eto'o's debut for Sampdoria ended in a chastening 5-1 defeat away to Torino, with former Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella hitting a hat-trick to send Giampiero Ventura's side up to ninth in the table.

Eto'o arrived at the Genoa-based club from Everton last week, signing a three-and-a-half year deal then declaring his "dream" to help lead Samp into contention for next season's Champions League.

But after a three-game unbeaten run, Samp were humbled in stunning fashion as Quagliarella gave the hosts a 2-0 lead by the break including one from the spot on the half hour.

Quagliarella completed his hat-trick in the 65th minute, with further goals from Amauri and Bruno Peres either side of a Pedro Obiang consolation for Samp securing a memorable win at the Olympic Stadium.

Samp's slip proved costly, especially in the light of Napoli's 2-1 away win over Chievo which tightened their grip on the last Champions League qualifying position.

Manolo Gabbiadini helped give the visitors an 18th minute lead when his shot came off the head of Bostjan Cesar in comical fashion to finish in the back of the net.

After Miguel Britos scored an own goal for Napoli to level the score seven minutes later, Gabbiadini -- signed from Sampdoria two months ago -- rescued the points with a 62nd minute winner.

Lazio travelled to struggling Cesena looking for a second consecutive win after last week's 2-1 defeat of Milan, but Andre Defrel put the hosts in front on the hour and Danilo Cataldi's own goal doubled the score in the 77th minute.

Miroslav Klose reduced arrears for Lazio three minutes from time but Cesena held on to end a previous four-game losing streak to the Biancocelesti.

Elsewhere, Paulo Dybala and Andrea Belotti struck one apiece in either half to secure a 2-1 home win over Verona, who hit an early opener through Panagiotis Tachtsidis, to move up to seventh place, nine points off third.

Atalanta moved five points clear of Chievo in the relegation zone thanks to a 2-1 home win over Gianfranco Zola's on-form Cagliari, with Mauricio Pinillo hitting an injury-time winner.

Earlier, Inter Milan's Champions League qualification hopes were kept in check by a 3-1 defeat away to Sassuolo on Sunday when both sides finished with 10 men.

Milan, who sit 12th, can move several places up the table with a home win in Sunday's late game against basement side Parma.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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