Napoli draw all but hands title to Juventus

by Emmeline MOORE
A late Torino equaliser at Napoli leaves Juventus all but guaranteed another Serie A title

Juventus are practically assured of winning a seventh successive Serie A title after second-placed Napoli were held 2-2 by Torino on Sunday.

Juventus have a six-point lead in Serie A with two games left to play. Both teams are equal in head-to-head clashes but Juventus are well ahead of their southern rivals on goal difference.

The champions now need just one point to officially retain their crown with games to come against Roma in the Stadio Olimpico and already-relegated Verona in Turin.

Torino twice battled back from a goal down to steal a point from Maurizio Sarri's side who had been bidding for a first title since the days of Argentina legend Diego Maradona in 1987 and 1990.

"Unfortunately there is a bit of regret, we didn't deserve these recent results," said Napoli captain Marek Hamsik.

"Juventus are a very strong team but I think from what we showed on the pitch we deserved a little more."

The mood in the Stadio San Paolo was one of support for Sarri after club president Aurelio De Laurentiis laid the blame on the coach after last week's 3-0 defeat at Fiorentina effectively ended their title challenge.

Napoli's last win was against Juventus in Turin two weeks ago.

Dries Mertens celebrated his 31st birthday by putting Napoli ahead after 25 minutes after a shocking defensive error by Torino's Nicolas Burdisso, with Hamsik coming off the bench to add a second for the hosts after 71 minutes.

But Torino dug deep with Daniele Baselli pulling the visitors level 10 minutes into the second half and Lorenzo De Silvestri heading in seven minutes from time to cancel out Hamsik's goal.

Juventus had recovered from a goal down to beat Bologna 3-1 on Saturday to open up a seven-point lead.

Massimiliano Allegri's Juventus would have to lose their final two matches and Napoli to achieve high-scoring wins against Sampdoria and Crotone to make up the goal difference.

Napoli and Juventus both won 1-0 away from home against each other this season, but the Turin giants (+61) have a considerable edge over Napoli (+45) in terms of goal difference.

- Inter still believe in Champions League -

With Juventus and Napoli in the top two spots, Inter Milan kept their Champions League hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Udinese to move to within two points of Lazio, who are third after being held 1-1 by Atalanta.

Lazio -- without Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile -- can be overtaken by Roma who play at Cagliari later on Sunday.

Lazio fell behind to a Musa Barrow strike after just two minutes before Felipe Caicedo grabbed the equaliser on 24 minutes following good work by Luis Alberto.

Inter assured fifth place and seal at least Europa League action next season while keeping their Champions League challenge alive.

Inter have 69 points with two games left and cannot be caught by AC Milan, who are nine points behind, or Atalanta, who have 59.

"We're still convinced that we can get to the Champions League," said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.

Inter put last week's last-gasp 3-2 defeat to Juventus behind them, sealing victory with first-half goals from Andrea Ranocchia, Rafinha and captain Mauro Icardi.

Argentine Icardi kept his push for the Golden Boot alive with his 28th goal this season, just one short of Immobile.

Udinese played the final 40 minutes a man down after Seko Fofana was shown red, while Borja Valero added a fourth Inter goal with a minute to go.

Udinese slip to just a point above the drop zone, with Chievo moving ahead of them after a 2-1 win against relegation rivals Crotone.

A late Torino equaliser at Napoli leaves Juventus all but guaranteed another Serie A title