Juve hopes boosted, Inter leapfrog Milan

Juventus's title defence hopes were buoyed after the champions opened up a five-point lead over Napoli, with Inter Milan leapfrogging city rivals Milan into fourth place on Sunday.

In the day's main fixtures, Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty to secure a 1-1 draw for Milan at Cagliari, but Massimiliano Allegri's side slipped to fifth after Inter's later 3-1 win over Chievo.

Juventus now lead Napoli by five points, with Lazio in third a further six points off the pace and Inter a further point adrift in fourth.

Juventus had assured their 17th win of the campaign on Saturday when goals by Mirko Vucinic and Alessandro Matri, the latter scoring without his boot, secured a 2-0 home win over Fiorentina.

If that incident provided some amusement, it wasn't fully appreciated by Fiorentina or their coach Vincenzo Montella, who was unhappy while conceding defeat.

"Juventus showed their superiority," said Montella. "We tried to challenge but Juve scored and controlled the game like the great team they are."

The result left Napoli needing to beat Lazio at the Olympic Stadium to restore their three-point deficit.

But instead Napoli were left thanking Argentine defender Hugo Campagnaro for a stunning late goal which levelled Sergio Floccari's 12th minute opener for Lazio, who should have wrapped the match up earlier.

"It was a very important point for us," said Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri.

"It wasn't easy to win. They started with pace and we found the going tough."

After spurning several chances to seal the win, Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic lamented: "It was a great game by the lads, we created so many scoring chances but we had to be more clinical."

Balotelli, meanwhile, scored his third goal in two games to snatch a share of the points for Milan after Victor Ibarbo had opened the scoring for Cagliari on the stroke of half time.

The Italy international could have wrapped victory up for the Rossoneri, but was guilty of missing a superb chance in the dying minutes when he also found himself offside twice while presented with goal-scoring chances.

Allegri admitted: "It was a tight game and we did well to hold out in the first half before we conceded the goal right just before half-time.

"We pulled our socks up in the second half and after the penalty when we created a few chances we should have put the match beyond reach. But overall it was a good point for us."

Inter, meanwhile, capitalised on those dropped points at the San Siro to move up to fourth place with a convincing 3-1 win over Chievo.

Antonio Cassano gave Inter a second-minute lead when his strike squeezed past Christian Puggioni in the Chievo net.

Chievo levelled on 21 minutes thanks to Luca Rigoni, but two minutes later defender Andrea Ranocchia rose above the opposition defence to send a bullet header past Puggioni.

Inter's domination continued into the second half, the Nerazzurri taking just five minutes to score a third after Diego Milito trapped Esteban Cambiasso's cross in the area to rifle home.

Meanwhile, in their first game since the sacking of Czech coach Zdenek Zeman last week, Roma's slump continued with a 3-1 defeat to Sampdoria.

Paraguayan midfielder Marcelo Estigarribia broke the deadlock on 56 minutes and Samp doubled their lead on 73 minutes when second-half substitute Gianluca Sansone rifled a freekick past Maarten Stekelenburg.

Midfielder Erik Lamela reduced arrears two minutes later, but a further two minutes later Emanuele Icardi was left unmarked to beat Stekelenburg at the back post from a 77th minute corner.

"Sampdoria deserved the win," said Roma's caretaker coach Aurelio Andreazzoli, has work to do if he is to plug the holes in Roma's defence which has now conceded 45 goals.

"A few decisions could have gone our way and I'm satisfied with how the lads played, but I'm not happy with the result."

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