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Napoli stuns Juventus

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

MILAN - Goals by Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens handed Napoli a stunning 2-0 win over champions Juventus and sparked some life into the Serie A title race yesterday.

Juventus had seen their 14-point lead cut back earlier in the day when Roma, in second with a game in hand, prevailed 2-0 at struggling Sassuolo.

Napoli came flying out the blocks and at the tail end of a dominant first half Callejon broke the deadlock in the 37th minute.

The pace slowed after the break but moments after replacing Marek Hamsik, Mertens made the most of Goran Pandev's delivery to beat Gianluigi Buffon with a crisp drive from the edge of the area and condemn Juventus to just their second league defeat of the season.

Juve now lead Roma by 11 points with Napoli, who have been chasing the second automatic Champions League qualifying spot, still third but six points behind Roma and 12 ahead of Fiorentina.

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez told Sky Sport Italia: "There's always little things we can improve on but on the whole we played really well, although I'd like to see this kind of concentration against the smaller teams as well.

"But the key to victory was ball possession. For Juve it was difficult to get back up the field without having the ball, although maintaining this kind of intensity over the whole season isn't easy."

Juve suffered their only other reverse in a 4-2 defeat away to Fiorentina in October.

Coach Antonio Conte said his side's Europa League commitments had perhaps made the difference.

"We didn't play well in the first half, although we improved somewhat in the second," Conte said.

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