Napoli squeeze past SPAL
Napoli 1 - 0 SPAL

Napoli squeeze past SPAL

18/02/2018

Napoli stayed one point ahead of Juventus at the top of Serie A on Sunday after both teams won their ninth league games in a row, this time beating SPAL and Torino 1-0 respectively.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik thought he had scored a second, was booked for smashing into the corner flag and, to add insult to injury, saw the goal chalked off by the video assistant referee (VAR) after a two-minute delay.

The pattern was the same as the previous three weekends when Juventus, chasing a seventh successive title, played first, won and briefly went top only to be pulled back by their rivals.

Juventus will also play first for the next three rounds of matches, a situation which has drawn complaints from Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri.

Brazilian midfielder Allan finished off a typically incisive Napoli move to score the only goal in the sixth minute at rain-soaked San Paolo stadium.

Hamsik's second-half goal was ruled out for offside and, although replays showed it was the right decision, the incident raised more questions about the use of the video technology being trialled in Serie A, among others, this season.

Napoli's stadium announcer, known as "Decibel Bellini" had gone through his entire ear-splitting celebratory routine and SPAL were ready to kick off before the referee signalled that he was reviewing the goal.

As replays showed that Hamsik was fractionally offside, the Slovak was seen to gesture to the linesman asking why he had not raised his flag.

Juventus overcame an early injury to striker Gonzalo Higuain as they edged their less glamorous neighbours in the Derby della Mole.

Higuain appeared to twist his ankle and soldiered on for another 10 minutes before being replaced by Federico Bernadeschi, who set up the goal when he pulled the ball back for Alex Sandro to tap in just after the half hour.

Torino, who missed an early chance when Andrea Belotti failed to control Joel Obi's pass with the goal at his mercy, lost confidence after falling behind and never looked like turning around the game.

Juventus have won seven and drawn one of their last eight matches against Torino.

Napoli have 66 points from 25 games with Juventus on 65 and AS Roma a huge 15 behind in third place.

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