(Italian league) Juve stretch advantage

Sports | 4 Mar 2019 11:07 am

Two red cards and a late penalty miss contributed to a dramatic match at the Stadio San Paolo yesterday as Juventus beat second-place Napoli 2-1 to continue its seemingly unstoppable march toward a record-extending eighth successive Serie A title.

Juventus appeared to be cruising when they went in at halftime 2-0 up, and with a man advantage after Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret was sent off for a foul on Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Miralem Pjanic _ scorer of the first goal _ was also dismissed at the start of the second half and Jose Callejon pulled one back for Napoli. Lorenzo Insigne then hit the post for the home team with a penalty six minutes from time.

The match had turned in the 28th minute when Ronaldo intercepted Kevin Malcuit's poor back pass and went down on the edge of the area as Meret came rushing out to challenge.

Although it was debatable whether Meret touched Ronaldo, referee Gianluca Rocchi showed a straight red card to the Napoli goalkeeper for his recklessness as it denied a clear scoring opportunity.

Pjanic curled the resulting free kick into the net and Emre Can doubled Juve's lead 11 minutes later with a close-range header.

Napoli were given a way back into the match when Pjanic was shown a second yellow card for handling two minutes into the second half.

The hosts reduced the deficit in the 61st as Callejon got ahead of the Juventus defenders to tap in Insigne's cross.

Napoli laid siege to the Juventus goal and thought it had got rewards when they were awarded a penalty for an Alex Sandro handball, but Insigne's effort rebounded off the post.

SUPER QUAGLIARELLA

Fabio Quagliarella added another memorable chapter to his season by scoring two goals and hitting the woodwork twice in Sampdoria's 2-1 win at Spal.

Quagliarella netted with an acrobatic volley from 10 yards (meters) after four minutes. Then he rose above a defender for a textbook header to add another goal seven minutes later.

The 36-year-old forward made it 19 goals this season, matching Cristiano Ronaldo atop the Serie A scoring chart.

Spal had a goal from Sergio Floccari taken away by the VAR, prompting its hard-core "ultra'' fans to walk out mid-match. The hosts eventually scored in added time through Jasmin Kurtic.

EMOTIONAL SCENES

Amid emotional scenes at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, Atalanta beat Fiorentina 3-1.

Every Serie A match this weekend was interrupted in the 13th minute to remember Fiorentina captain Davide Astori ahead of Monday's first anniversary of his death from a cardiac arrest, at the age of 31. The defender used to wear the No. 13 shirt.

Several players were in tears on Sunday as applause rang out from both sets of fans and banners were displayed in tribute to Astori, who was from near Bergamo _ where Atalanta plays their football.

OTHER MATCHES

Torino moved into contention for the Europa League places with a 3-0 win over last-placed Chievo Verona. Also, Udinese beat fellow struggler Bologna 2-1 and Frosinone drew 0-0 at Genoa.-AP

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