Walter Mazzarri’s position as coach of Inter Milan fell under further scrutiny after a second consecutive drubbing on Sunday as the fortunes of under-fire Napoli coach Rafael Benitez improved with a precious win at home to Torino.
Inter were humiliated 4-1 by then basement side Cagliari at the San Siro last week and despite pledges of a fightback the club were humbled by a 3-0 away defeat to Fiorentina.
Khouma Babacar opened the scoring at the Artemio Franchi Stadium after seven minutes, with Juan Cuadrado giving the hosts a 2-0 lead by the 19th minute and Nenad Tomovic wrapping up the points with a 76th minute strike.
While Fiorentina moved up to ninth, Inter dropped to tenth having now claimed eight points from a possible 18, and Mazzarri seemed at a loss for words.
“After a 3-0 defeat, whatever I say is going to be misinterpreted. The players and I are well aware of our problems,” Mazzarri told Sky after the game.
Inter’s second successive defeat is unlikely to please the club’s Indonesian owner Erick Thohir, but Mazzarri was defiant.
“We have to pull our socks up and work hard over the next two weeks, despite the fact a lot of players will be called on international duty.”
Benitez has also endured a tough start to the season with Napoli failing to live up to expectations in the league following their elimination from the Champions League in the third qualifying round.
Napoli got back to winning ways last week with a cagey 1-0 win over struggling Sassuolo following a 3-3 draw with promoted Palermo and successive defeats to Udinese and Chievo.
On Sunday, second-half goals from Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon made the difference at the San Paolo where former Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella opened the score for Torino in the 14th minute.
Napoli are now up to seventh place, eight points behind Juventus after the champions pulled three points clear of Roma following a controversial and bad-tempered 3-2 win over the capital club in Turin.
Benitez heaped praise on Italy international Insigne, who scored his first league goal of the campaign and set up Spanish forward Callejon for Napoli’s winner.
“His work-rate is impressive ... all he needs is to be a little more precise with his finishing,” Benitez told Sky.
In Turin, Leonardo Bonucci struck at the death as Juventus claimed the bragging rights from the much-anticipated showdown with Roma in a match that saw three expulsions and at least one dubious penalty.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia was sent off in the first half, while Juve striker Alvaro Morata and Roma defender Konstantinos Manolas saw red in the closing minutes after the match’s final, angry exchange.
Garcia said midweek the top-of-the-table clash would be a “great advert” for Italian football. And there was no lack of drama at a packed-out Juventus Stadium as Roma, despite their first defeat of the season, further underlined their status as the biggest challengers to Juve’s three-year grip on the Italian championship.
Juve midfield great Andrea Pirlo returned for his first match of the season following his recovery from injury, with Garcia notably preferring Greek defender Jose Holebas to Ashley Cole at left back.
After seeing an early chance expertly blocked Carlos Tevez scored the first of two penalties just before the half hour.
The match turned in the 26th minute when Juve were awarded a freekick following Francesco Totti’s foul on Pirlo, whose subsequent free kick hit the arm of Maicon in the defensive wall.
Players from both sides immediately surrounded referee Gianluca Rocchi, who wavered before giving in to Juve’s demands for a penalty. Moments later, Tevez stepped up to beat Lukasz Skorupski to give the champions a 27th minute lead.
To rub salt into Roma wounds, Garcia was sent off for dissent after playing an imaginary violin although any suspicion of bias was soothed minutes later when Rocchi awarded Roma a spot-kick after Totti was brought down in the box by Stephan Lichtsteiner, despite being nowhere near the ball.
Totti stepped up to send Gianluigi Buffon the wrong way to level on 32 minutes.
The goals seemed to set in motion a series of dubious challenges, Tevez notably shoving Holebas off his body in anger after a mid-air collision with the Greek defender that prompted Mapou Yanga Mbiwa to intervene.
However Juventus Stadium was stunned into silence just before the interval when Gervinho was allowed space on the left to run into the area and lay off a sublime angled pass for Juan Iturbe to run in and slide the ball past Buffon.
Roma’s joy was short-lived, however. When Paul Pogba tried to gallop into the Roma area on the stroke of half-time, he fell under a soft challenge from Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic.
Despite television pictures showing the challenge to be outside the area, Rocchi pointed to the penalty spot and Tevez stepped up to beat Skorupski for the second time.
Juve resumed where they had left off following the break and Skorupski had to rush out to smother as Pogba stumbled his way towards the six yard box.
A Tevez lay-off for Fernando Llorente looked threatening, but Manolas did well to block in timely fashion.
At the other end Juve backed off and Radja Nainggolan found Gervinho on the left. After a smart run inside, the Ivorian set up Pjanic, whose low shot trickled just wide of Buffon’s far post.
Roma injected some fresh legs when Iturbe made way for Alessandro Florenzi in the 66th minute and on 78 minutes the Italian combined well with Gervinho and Pjanic before the Ivorian was bundled out of play to the right of goal by Giorgio Chiellini.
Pirlo made way for Arturo Vidal with 11 minutes remaining, but Juve’s salvation came when Roma’s defence failed to deal with a corner which fell to Bonucci on the edge of the area.
The Italy defender smacked a volley through a crowded defence and past the outstretched Skorupski to give Juve an 86th minute lead, although at least two Juventus players looked offside.
The match ended on an ugly note when Manolas was victim to a tough sliding tackle by Morata, prompting the intervention of Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri, practically both sets of players and forcing the expulsion of the players involved.
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