On-loan Chelsea forward Mohamed Salah came off the bench to hit his third goal in four league games as nine-man Fiorentina ended Inter Milan’s three-game winning run with a 1-0 success at the San Siro.
Fiorentina were unbeaten in 11 competitive matches and travelled to Milan in confident mood having knocked Tottenham out of the Europa League on Thursday when Salah scored in a 2-0 win in Florence.
And La Viola, forced to finish the game with nine men when Nenad Tomovic and Stefan Savic limped off after all three substitutes had been used, extended their run to move to within three points of Napoli.
Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle said the club had tracked Salah for some time before getting their man.
“It’s not by chance the lad is here. We were following him a long time, well before Christmas,” he told Firenzeviola.it.
Inter’s setback left them in eighth, 22 points behind Juventus and left Roberto Mancini lamenting missed chances.
“When they went ahead that’s when we started struggling, but we went on to create chances that we simply didn’t put away,” Mancini said.
“We know how good a side they are but we were far too generous to them right up till the end.”
Luis Muriel and Stefano Okaka hit second-half goals as Sampdoria ended a five-game winless streak at Atalanta.
Palermo failed to score in a league game for only the second time this season after being held to a scoreless draw by Empoli.
Parma’s trip to Genoa was postponed as the visitors, whose game against Udinese last week was also called off, continue to suffer from the financial struggles that could see the club’s future decided by a bankruptcy hearing later this month.
A second-half header from defender Kamil Glik halted Napoli’s charge towards second spot in Serie A as Torino ended their recent barren spell against the Partenopei to go eighth on Sunday.
Napoli’s hopes for a second-place finish and an automatic Champions League qualifying spot were given a huge boost recently after Roma were held six times in seven league games to slip to nine points behind leaders Juventus.
Rafael Benitez’s men had the chance to pull level on points with Rudi Garcia’s misfiring side.
But the visitors, who welcomed Gonzalo Higuain back to the starting line-up following the Argentinian striker’s one-match suspension, were left lamenting missed opportunities after Glik was allowed to run in unmarked to break the deadlock with a powerful header from a corner in the 68th minute.
Napoli battled in the closing minutes with Higuain notably firing over from close range from Jonathan De Guzeman’s delivery on the left.
Manolo Gabbiadini then hit the bottom of the upright with a free kick which glanced off Higuain, before his daisycutter flew just past the post minutes later.
Torino had lost their past four league games against Napoli, but Giampiero Ventura’s men — who ousted Athletic Bilbao in midweek to qualify for the last 16 of the Europa League — held on to claim their first win against Napoli under Ventura’s helm.
Napoli, who are also into the Europa last 16 after a 5-0 aggregate victory over Trabzonspor, remain in third place but are still three points behind Roma ahead of Monday’s top-of-the-table clash at the Stadio Olimpico, which could see Juventus pull 12 points clear.
Earlier, Lazio, Fiorentina and Sampdoria won their respective games to boost their hopes of European football next season.
Felipe Anderson hit a first-half wonder strike and set up Miroslav Klose for Lazio’s second in a 3-0 win over Sassuolo as the Biancocelesti closed to within two points of Napoli.
Coach Stefano Pioli paid tribute to his ambitious side: “I’m fortunate to be coaching a squad that is committed and attentive. I want to steer this side into port, we’ll see where we end up at the end of the season.”
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