Inter Milan draw with struggling Cesena in Serie A

AFP , Monday 16 Mar 2015

Inter Milan
Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi, right, and Rodrigo Palacio stand on the pitch after Cesena’s Gregoire Defrel scored during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Cesena, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 15, 2015. (Photo: AP)

Veteran striker Luca Toni scored in either half as Verona stunned Napoli 2-0 at home on Sunday to dent the Azzurri's hopes of a runner-up finish in Italy's Serie A.

Napoli and Lazio are both hot on the heels of second-placed Roma, who are 14 points adrift of leaders Juventus, and began the day four points behind Rudi Garcia's men.

But Napoli's bid to claim one of the league's two automatic qualifying spots for next season's Champions League stumbled at the Bentegodi Stadium where Toni struck in the seventh and 51st minutes.

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez had left both Gonzalo Higuain and Manolo Gabbiadini on the bench but called on both forwards in the 67th and 82nd minutes to replace Giandomenico Mesto and Marek Hamsik respectively.

However the Spaniard's decision appeared to backfire, Verona holding on for their first win over the Azzurri in their past five league encounters.

Napoli remain fourth, four points adrift of Roma ahead of the Giallorossi's home game with Sampdoria on Monday. Roma are looking for just their second win in their past 10 games after drawing a remarkable eight times.

The result has boosted Lazio ahead of their trip to Torino on Monday, where a win would take Stefano Pioli's visitors to within a point of Roma and three ahead of Napoli.

Juventus notched their 19th win of the season on Saturday when Alvaro Morata came off the bench to secure the points for the defending champions with a sweet curling shot in the 70th minute.

Even if Roma win on Monday, Juventus will hold an 11-point lead with 11 games remaining in the campaign.

Earlier Sunday Chievo pulled themselves further away from the drop zone thanks to a shock 2-0 win at Genoa where Alberto Paloschi hit a second-half brace to secure just their seventh win of the season.

Chievo remain fifth from bottom but are nine points ahead of third-from-bottom Cagliari, who were held 1-1 by Empoli on Saturday when Vecino levelled in the 93rd minute.

In Sunday's late game Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Cesena, who took the lead through Gregoire Defrel with Rodrigo Palacio getting the equaliser.

Roberto Mancini's men now sit seventh, 27 points behind Juventus but only nine points behind Lazio who occupy the third and last Champions League qualifying spot.

City rivals AC Milan are in action on Monday when they face a tough encounter at on-form Fiorentina.

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