The top two teams in the Italian Serie A, Napoli and Juventus, recorded nervy home wins in their respective league matches to further boost their title bid.
League leaders Napoli defeated stubborn Sampdoria 3-2 to maintain their one-point lead at the top of the table despite finishing the game with 10 men.
Former Southampton and Hull City midfielder Gaston Ramirez shocked the hosts with an early lead in the second minute only for Allan to restore parity for Maurizio Sarri’s men.
They suffered another setback when Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarelia scored from the penalty spot to edge his side 2-1 up but two goals in six first half minutes from Lorenzo Insigne and a record breaking goal from Marek Hamsik overturned the result in Napoli’s favour.
The home side thereafter held on for the important win after the interval despite playing the last 13 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of Marco Rui.
Italian champions Juventus have moved within one point of Napoli following the 1-0 win over fellow title rivals AS Roma at home courtesy the first half strike from Morocco defender Mehdi Benatia.
Inter Milan’s title bid is looking increasingly impossible after the former leaders were beaten 1-0 at relegation threatened Sassuolo.
Diego Falcinelli’s first half strike was enough for the hosts though Mauro Icardi could have snatched a result for Inter Milan in the second half but he missed a fantastic chance from the penalty spot.
Fallen giants AC Milan (24 points) have disappointingly dropped into the second half of the table (11th) after a 2-0 loss to Atalanta at the San Siro with goals from former player Bryan Crisante and Josip Ilicic.
Week 18 Results (Saturday)
Lazio 4-0 Crotone
Genoa 1-0 Benevento
Napoli 3-2 Sampdoria
SPAL 2013 2-2 Torino
Sassuolo 1-0 Inter Milan
Udinese 4-0 Hellas Verona
AC Milan 0-2 Atalanta
Juventus 1-0 AS Roma
Standings (Top 5) via Points:
1. Napoli 45
2. Juventus 44
3. Inter Milan 40
4. AS Roma 38
5. Lazio 36