Stadio San Paolo, Napoli, Italy
Juventus missed the chance to go eight points clear of second-placed Roma in Serie A after they drew 1-1 against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples.
Sami Khedira had put the Bianconeri ahead after just six minutes before Marek Hamšík’s emphatic first-time finish levelled the scores for the Neapolitans on the hour-mark.
In a match where the focus was on former Neapolitan striker, Gonzalo Higuaín, who was returning to the San Paolo for the first time in the league since joining the Turin-outfit, it was Khedira, who made the early headlines as he put the visitors ahead. The German midfielder surged forward and exchanged a neat one-two with Higuaín before firing a powerful effort that deputising keeper Rafael Cabral, could only help on its way.
In the 19th minute the hosts had a great chance when an Allan cross was chested down by Dries Mertens into the path of Hamšík, but he miscued his effort and fired the ball wide.
In the 30th minute Napoli had a good chance to level the scores. Elseid Hysaj initially did well to get to the by-line and send in a cross that was left by Mertens for Lorenzo Insigne, whose effort was blocked, but the loose ball fell to Hamšík, who fired an effort just wide.
Three minutes later the Neapolitans went close again. Mertens received the ball and cut-inside to beat Giorgio Chiellini before firing an effort with his left foot, that produced a straightforward save from Buffon.
In the 39th minute Napoli almost found the leveller when Insigne surged forward and beat two players before bending an effort just wide of the top-corner.
Five minutes into the second-half the hosts went close when Insigne latched onto a José Callejón cross before cutting-inside to curl an effort just over the bar.
Five minutes later the Neapolitans thought they were level after Callejón tapped home the loose ball after Buffon parried a Mertens strike, but the flag was up for offside and the goal was chalked-off.
On the hour-mark Napoli drew level. Mertens did wonderfully well to find Hamšík with a fine reverse-pass and the midfielder fired the ball home first-time.
Three minutes later the hosts very nearly took the lead. Chiellini sold Buffon short with a back-pass and Mertens seized onto the loose ball and managed to win the ball in a 50/50 challenge with the keeper, but the angle was against the Belgian, who fired an effort against the post under-pressure from the retreating Leonardo Bonucci.
In the 89th minute the hosts had a great chance when Callejón met substitute Piotr Zieliński’s wonderful cross-field pass with a header back across the face of goal, but there was no-one in a Napoli shirt on the end of it.
In the second of three additional minutes at the end of the second-half, the Neapolitans thought they should have had a penalty after Stephan Lichtsteiner had a hold of Mertens’ shirt, but the referee was unmoved.
The result meant that Juventus remained on top of the league but now move onto 74 points while Napoli remained in third and move onto 64 points.