MILAN - AC Milan were within touching
distance of their first Serie A title for seven years after
nearest challengers Napoli lost 2-1 at home to Udinese on
Second-half goals from Gokhan Inler and German Denis left
second-placed Napoli, chasing their first scudetto since Diego
Maradona's days in 1990, six points adrift of leaders Milan with
five matches to play.
Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, the championship's second top
scorer with 25 goals, missed a penalty in a bad-tempered game
featuring several flare-ups, although only Udinese's Maurizio
Domizzi was sent off.
Milan, 3-0 winners over Sampdoria on Saturday, have 71
points from 33 games with Napoli stuck on 65 and Inter Milan,
champions for the last five seasons, on 63 after their 2-0
defeat at Parma on Saturday.
Juventus were left facing a second successive season without
Champions League football after they were held 0-0 by Fiorentina
in a dour affair while rivals Lazio thrashed Catania 4-1.
Those results left Juventus eight points adrift of Lazio who
are in fourth place, the Champions League qualifying round
berth, with 60 points.
Seventh-placed Juve will have to concentrate on finishing
fifth or sixth to qualify at least for the Europa League.
Cesena moved out of the relegation places with a 1-0 win
over bottom club Bari thanks to a second-half goal from
34-year-old Albania striker Erjon Bogdani.
Cesena's win sent Sampdoria, whose bus was pelted with
sticks and stones by their own fans on returning to Genoa on
Saturday, into the danger zone in their place.
Napoli, winners of their last four league games, took early
control with Cavani twice going close but it fell apart for them
in a six-minute spell after the break.
Switzerland captain Inler, a Napoli transfer target, opened
the scoring with a swerving, deflected 25-metre shot in the 55th
minute to stun the San Paolo stadium.
Udinese coped well without injured first choice strikers
Antonio Di Natale and Alexis Sanchez when Pablo Armero burst
down the left and crossed to the far post where Denis chested
the ball down to fire the second against his former club.
Tempers flared several times after that, on one occasion
after an Udinese player went down injured and Napoli played on.
There was another scuffle after Napoli were awarded a
penalty in the 87th minute, ending in a red card for Domizzi.
After a two-minute delay, Uruguay forward Cavani saw his
kick saved by Samir Handanovic.
Brazilian midfielder Hernanes gave Lazio a 40th-minute lead
at Catania following a headed pass from Stefano Mauri.
Matias Schelotto levelled straight after the break but Mauri
put Lazio back ahead in the 56th before late goals from Sergio
Floccari and Argentine Mauro Zarate completed an impressive win.
At the bottom, Cesena's win lifted them to 17th, one place
above the danger zone, with 34 points, two more than Sampdoria.
Bari stayed rooted to the bottom of the table with 21 points
and look doomed while Brescia, in 19th place, went down 3-0 at
mid-table Genoa to stay on 30 points.
Lecce boosted their survival hopes when Fabiano and Daniele
Corvia scored in the last three minutes to snatch a 3-3 draw at
home to Cagliari, who had led with two goals from Robert
Acquafresca and one from Daniele Conti.
Algerian Djamel Mesbah scored the other goal early in the
second half for Lecce who are 16th with 35 points.
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