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Monday, December 05, 2022

Napoli shattered in final 10 minutes as title hopes fade

ROME ( Associated Press) – Napoli’s hopes of a first Serie A title in more than three decades were nearly shattered by an eight-minute delay in the second half at Empoli on Sunday.

Napoli scored three straight goals – one of which was the product of a terrifying error by goalkeeper Alex Meret – and lost a two-goal advantage in a 3–2 loss that extended their winning streak to three matches.

With only four games remaining, third-placed Napoli were left five points behind defending champions Inter Milan and four points behind AC Milan, who later had a chance to take the lead in Lazio. Fourth-placed Juventus could advance to within one point of Napoli with a win at Sassuolo on Monday.

Napoli legends Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne put Napoli ahead 2-0 before the hour mark and Partenopei looked confident to enter the final 10 minutes.

Then the match turned.

Liam Henderson scored Empoli’s first in the 80th after Kevin Malkitt lost his right in midfield.

It took a long time for Meret to clear and when he finally tried to launch the ball away from his target, Andrea Pinamonti was right over him and the ball hit the empoli striker and Meret’s net.

Finally, in the 88th, Pinamonti rebounded quickly to finish 14th to give Empoli their first win since December.

It is only the third time in Serie A history that a team has won after 79 minutes by two goals.

“It was difficult to clearly imagine the end of the game like this,” said Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti. We made some mistakes and lost the ball too easily.”

Diego Maradona led Napoli to their only Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

salernitana streak

After spending most of the season in last place, Salernitana are suddenly on a three-match winning streak – the first such run in their Serie A history – and are putting up a fight to avoid relegation.

The southern club defeated Fiorentina 2–1 to move to within three points of 17th place Cagliari.

Substitute Federico Bonazoli scored the winner in the 79th, when Milan Duric gave an early advantage to Salernitana. Ricardo Saponara equalized for Fiorentina.

Also, 12th-placed Udinese and 13th-placed Bologna drew 2-2.

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More Associated Press Soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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