MILAN: Despite missing an early penalty, Napoli bounced back from their first league defeat of the season to beat 10-man Sampdoria 2-0 and extend their lead at the top of Serie A on Sunday.
In an emotional match at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Victor Osimhen opened the scoring in the 19th minute after Matteo Politano had seen his penalty saved. Any chance Sampdoria had of getting back into the match diminished when Tomas Rincon was sent off shortly before halftime and Napoli sealed the result with another penalty.
Napoli moved seven points clear of second-placed Juventus and defending champion AC Milan, who were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Roma following two late goals from the visitors.
Clashes took place earlier in the day between Roma fans traveling to Milan and Napoli supporters heading to Genoa. Around 300 fans were involved, throwing flares, stones and other objects at each other, causing part of the motorway to be closed and lengthy lines to form.
There were video tributes before the match to former Sampdoria players Gianluca Vialli and Sinisa MiHajjlovic, who both died recently. There were also plenty of banners in the stands dedicated to them and chants throughout the match.
The Sampdoria players warmed up wearing special jerseys with Vialli’s name on as well as the number nine he wore when he played for the team. Flowers were also laid by the side of the field by members of the Sampdoria staff and the Italy players from Napoli.
Vialli, who died on Friday, helped Sampdoria to its only Serie A title and three Italian Cups as well as the European Cup final during an eight-year stint.
MiHajjlovic played and coached Sampdoria and his three children stood on the side of the field holding up a team jersey with his name on the back during a minute’s silence for him and Vialli.
Napoli were looking to recover from a 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan on Wednesday, when the league resumed after a 7 ½-week break.
It seemed set to get off to the perfect start when Samp defender Nicola Murru was adjudged to have fouled Andre Anguissa in the penalty area but Politano saw his spot kick turned onto the right post by goalkeeper Emilio Audero.
Napoli did break the deadlock when Mario Rui was given space on the left to bend a ball into the area for Osimhen to rush in and fire into the back of the net.
Samp’s problems deepened six minutes from the break when Rincon was shown a straight red card for a cynical foul on Osimhen.
However, it took the league leader until the 82nd minute to secure the match when Elmas fired a powerful penalty into the top left corner following a Ronaldo Vieira handball.
Milan appeared to be heading for a comfortable win the were leading 2-0 with three minutes remaining after goals from Pierre Kalulu and Tommaso Pobega in either half.
But Roma pulled one back with their first effort on target when Roger Ibañez headed in a corner and Jose Mourinho’s team incredibly leveled in stoppage time through Tammy Abraham.
Empoli also scored two late goals to stun their hosts and snatch a 2-2 draw at Lazio.
Lazio seemed to have the match won when Mattia Zaccagni doubled theirlead early in the second half, following a header by Felipe Anderson with less than two minutes on the clock.
However, Francesco Caputo pulled one back for the visitors seven minutes from time and Razvan Marin netted a surprise equalizer in stoppage time.
Lazio were three points behind fourth-placed Inter Milan, who were held to a 2-2 draw at Monza on Saturday.
Spezia inched four points clear of the relegation zone with a 0-0 draw at home to Lecce, while Salernitana drew 1-1 against Torino.