Roma beat Napoli to keep pace
Roma tightened things up in the pursuit of the Serie A leaders as they came away from the Stadio San Paolo with an impressive 3-1 win over Napoli.
They join the Naples side on 21 points as a result, still 12 points behind Juventus, but firmly in the running for one of the UEFA Champions League spots.
An own-goal from Morgan De Sanctis put the Giallorossi in front in the third minute and Daniel Osvaldo doubled their lead in the 59th minute. Marek Hamsik pulled a goal back for Napoli eight minutes from time, but Fabio Simplicio earned a crucial win for Roma and their coach Luis Enrique in the last minute.
Roma were in front after just three minutes with De Sanctis turning a cross from the enterprising Erik Lamela into his own goal. Lamela showed great determination to beat Hugo Campagnaro and Paolo Cannavaro on his way to the goal-line, and pulled the ball back towards his team-mates in the middle with De Sanctis spilling it in.
Straight from the kick-off, Hamsik found himself in precisely the same position at the other end, but Maarten Stekelenburg made sure he pushed the cross away from his goal rather than towards it.
Napoli had no excuses about not levelling in the 24th minute when Juan Zuniga's cross was put on a plate for Hamsik just two yards out, but he contrived to lift the ball over the crossbar with the whole goal to aim at. The image of Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri looking to the sky and praying on the touchline told how incredible a miss it was.
Campagnaro made up for his earlier error in the build-up to the goal by making a perfect sliding tackle to deny Lamela inside the penalty area in the 28th minute. Five minutes later, Ezequiel Lavezzi hit the outside of the post while Lamela also found the woodwork in the 41st minute of an intriguing encounter.
Edinson Cavani had a goal ruled out early in the second half as the referee spotted a push from Christian Maggio as he set up his team-mate, before Osvaldo silenced the San Paolo with Roma's second in the 59th minute. Campagnaro again had to take some of the blame as he leisurely allowed Osvaldo to meet Francesco Totti's cross on the edge of the six-yard box and beat De Sanctis.
Hamsik gave the home side hope in the 82nd minute when he made even more of a mockery of his first-half miss by scoring from a tight angle with three Roma shirts between him and the goal.
And the ball was in the back of the Roma net again in the 89th minute, although this time it was ruled out for offside against Cavani. But Simplicio sealed the win less than 60 seconds later with his shot taking a wicked deflection off Cannavaro to beat De Sanctis.
Osvaldo nearly made it four in stoppage time, but Cannavaro made a goal-line clearance to deny him.