Napoli blow chance at Serie A lead with draw against Cagliari ahead of Europa League clash vs. Barcelona

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After AC Milan’s draw against Salernitana and Inter Milan’s defeat against Sassuolo over the weekend, Napoli had the chance to become Serie A leaders. Luciano Spalletti’s team, however, drew 1-1 against a Cagliari side sitting in the relegation zone but led by former Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri (you can catch all the Serie A action on Paramount+). The match was full of emotions from the opening whistle even if both goals of the night happened in the second part of the game. Napoli’s goalkeeper David Ospina made a terrible mistake on Gaston Pereiro’s shot that gave the lead to the home team. Cagliari were the best side for most of the game time but Napoli managed to score the equalizer with Victor Osimhen’s header before the end of the match. The Nigerian striker came in from the bench and scored his seventh Serie A goal of the season. While he was likely held in reserve in order to be fresh to lead Napoli’s attack on Thursday in the Europa League against Barcelona, Spalletti may come to regret the decision given that Napoli only managed 7 shots and 1.40 expected goals as compared to Cagliari’s 13 and 1.97.

During the weekend both AC Milan and Inter Milan failed to win. Rossoneri drew against Salernitana on Saturday, while Simone Inzaghi’s side lost at home against Sassuolo on Sunday. AC Milan had the opportunity to wide their lead in the title race but failed to do so even if rescuing a late point at the end ultiately proved to be a positive result, considering that their rivals twenty-four later lost while conceding two goals with Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca both scoring at San Siro. 

Inter Milan now have only one point in the last three Serie A matches (a loss against AC Milan and draw at Napoli preceded this result), and also have a lost in the first leg of the Champions League’s round of 16 against Liverpool in that time. It’s a true rough patch for the Nerazzurri, and they now desperately need to be back on track this Friday when they face Genoa while AC Milan will host Udinese. Next week, on March 1, the two sides will play against another time for the first Coppa Italia semifinal. A key week ahead of us will tell us more about the title race. 

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