Napoli held leaders Inter Milan to a 0-0 draw in a pulsating encounter in Naples to give the champions' title rivals a boost on Sunday. Earlier in the day, Italian veteran Alessandro Del Piero scored a controversial late spot-kick to give out-of-form Serie A giants Juventus a much-needed 3-2 victory over Genoa.
Napoli had the best of Sunday's night's game at the San Paolo stadium, hitting the woodwork twice to Inter's once, but the champions held on to extend their lead over AS Roma to seven points, although AC Milan could cut that to six if they win their game in hand.
Inter coach Jose Mourinho admitted Napoli deserved something from the game, but he said his side should have had a penalty when a Maicon cross hit Salvatore Aronica's arm in the box in the first half even though Napoli questioned the call.
The draw pushes Napoli back up to fourth and into the last Champions League qualification spot, but there are three more teams within just two points of them. Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri, whose side have lost only once in 17 league matches under his stewardship, believed they deserved more. "I'm happy with the way my players played, we deserved to win," he said. "But that's destiny, sooner or later the ball will go in. We've hit the woodwork five times in two games and only got one point."
Napoli had felt hard done by a week ago when they were beaten 3-1 at Udinese by two injury time goals having been reduced to 10-men before half-time. And they began this game like a team eager to make amends with Slovakia midfielder Marek Hamsik smacking a long-range shot against the bar on 10 minutes before German Denis took too long to control the rebound and was crowded out.
Three minutes later Fabio Quagliarella fired into side netting when left free at the back post. Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar was then the hero on 19 minutes with a stunning reaction save to deny Denis's flying header from Hamsik's right wing cross.
The visitors did have their moments and on the half hour Muntari Sulley caught the ball sweetly on the half volley just outside the area and he too thudded the woodwork. Inter coach Jose Mourinho must have said something at half-time because they were immediately more threatening after the break.
Goran Pandev should have done better when set free in the area by McDonald Mariga, but he shot too close to Morgan De Sanctis. Diego Milito than forced the Napoli shot-stopper into a save at his near post, and Walter Samuel headed over the bar.
But back came Napoli and Quagliarella hit a daisy cutter against the post on 65 minutes only for Denis to woefully skew the rebound high and wide with the goal at his mercy. Napoli kept pushing and Hamsik was left kicking himself after firing wide from Denis's knock-down when promisingly placed 11 minutes from time.
In Turin, 35-year-old Del Piero scored a brace while Brazilian striker Amauri added the other as the Old Lady came from behind to record only their fourth win in 15 matches in all competitions and give coach Alberto Zaccheroni his first win in the three matches he has been in charge.
But Genoa protested Juve's decisive 78th-minute penalty. "From where I was, I didn't see it, but I've been told that it was offside, it was outside the area and it wasn't a foul," complained Genoa coach Gian Piero Gasperini.
Genoa took an early lead in Turin through club captain Marco Rossi, which provoked an early bout of whistling and jeering from the Juve fans, but Amauri's 42nd minute headed equaliser from Mauro Camoranesi's cross helped calm them.
Juventus took the lead just after the hour mark as Diego's delicate backheel split the Genoa defence allowing Del Piero to score his 271st goal for the club. However, they had barely stopped celebrating before the game was level again as Rossi struck for a seocnd time. Juventus, though, had the last laugh as Del Piero tumbled under a challenge and got up to convert the penalty for 3-2.
New boss Edy Reja had an immediate impact at Lazio as they climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win at Parma.