Napoli Lorenzo Insigne celebrates after winning over Juventus during an Italian championship game on Sunday. Reuters
Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne scored in the second half while Napoli in difficulty shocked the Juventus champions 2-1 to ruin the return of coach Maurizio Sarri to the San Paolo Stadium on Sunday.
Sarri had not returned to Naples since he was fired in May 2018 after three successful campaigns and before moving to Chelsea.
This season he has conquered eight-time reigning champions of Juve, a move seen as a betrayal by his former team, the two-time second placed in Serie A.
Juve lost the chance to open a six-point lead over Inter at the top of the table, after Antonio Conte’s team had previously been held 1-1 by Cagliari, their third consecutive draw.
Inter are three points behind Juventus with Lazio and two other points drifting to third place after rival Roma have closed the winning streak of 11 games by Simone Inzaghi.
“It is pleasant and exciting to go back,” said Sarri despite the whistles and insults of his former fans, reserving his criticisms to his team “under par, mentally bland”.
“We lost a game against an opponent who had done the minimum to win,” he added.
In Naples, Zielinski broke the deadlock after 63 minutes ending a rebound after Insigne was denied by the Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Insigne flew in a second after 86 minutes to an explosion of joy in the crowd.
Cristiano Ronaldo pulled back one goal while the match ended in injury for his 13th goal in nine consecutive games in all competitions.
Visitors pushed for the draw, but Alex Meret stifled Gonzalo Higuain’s goal effort, while Juve crashed on the second defeat of the season.
Napoli rises to tenth place, 12 points behind the Champions League after finishing a series of three consecutive defeats.
At San Siro, Radja Nainggolan claimed the draw for Cagliari against his mother team, Inter Milan.
Tensions reached a boiling point when Inter Lautaro Martinez’s scorer was sent off in recovery time for arguing with the referee.
The Argentine reacted with fury, screaming and repeatedly hitting the plexiglass on the side of the field, while he was being taken away by his teammates.
Martinez’s frustration mirrors that of his team, which has now been held back by three consecutive 1-1 draws and has taken 11 points in its last seven league games.
Inter started promisingly with Ashley Young who made an immediate impact on his debut after arriving from Manchester United, providing the cross that allowed Martinez to return after half an hour.
But the hosts failed to take advantage of the momentum and the Sardinians stayed in the game until the long-range equalizer deflected Nainggolan over 78 minutes.