Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti said his side were “ready for Liverpool” after warming up for next week’s Champions League clash at Anfield with a 4-0 win over Frosinone in Serie A on Saturday, but Roma threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with nine-man Cagliari in a chaotic final ten minutes in Sardinia.
Piotr Zielinski opened the scoring after just seven minutes at the Stadio San Paolo for Napoli with Algerian Adam Ounas adding a stunning second five minutes prior to the break, before Arkadiusz Milik’s second-half double.
Ancelotti’s team closed the gap on Juventus to eight points after the seven-time reigning champions continued their unbeaten run with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan on Friday. Napoli are six points ahead of third-placed Inter.
“Games like today have all the ingredients of a trap, especially ahead of a Champions League game,” said former Chelsea boss Ancelotti. “We can start thinking about Liverpool now.”
Goalkeeper Alex Meret got his first start after breaking his arm following his move from Udinese, with midfielder Amin Younes also making his debut off the bench.
Algerian international Faouzi Ghoulam – playing his first game in over a year after a knee injury – set up both Milik’s goals after 69 and 85 minutes.
“The new entrants have done well,” said Ancelotti.
“I’ve had positive feedback from everyone and I think the team is ready to face the challenge on Tuesday. I have fond memories of Anfield, as I won the Premier League there with Chelsea.”
Roma’s ‘absurd’ collapse
But amid chaos in Sardinia, Roma, who had led with first-half goals from Bryan Cristante and Aleksandar Kolarov, were caught as the clock ticked down.
“I’m really angry and upset at this draw, because it’s just absurd. You can’t let it happen, conceding an equaliser against nine men in stoppages,” said under-pressure Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
Roma are already through to the Champions League last 16 before next week’s game against Viktoria Plzen.
But they have a long injury list with captain Daniele De Rossi sidelined along with Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Cristante opened after 14 minutes off a Justin Kluivert cross, as Kolarov got the second five minutes before the break with a free-kick which took a big deflection.
But the hosts broke through late when Joao Pedro nodded a corner on to Artur Ionita who blasted into the Roma goal four minutes from time.
Luca Ceppitelli and Darijo Srna were sent off for arguing with the referee in injury time, with Cagliari coach Roberto Maran also banished.
But Marco Sau came off the bench to score five minutes into injury time and maintain 13th-placed Cagliari’s unbeaten home record.
Roma, third last season, remain seventh, 22 points behind leaders Juventus.
Sampdoria stall Lazio
Roma’s city rivals Lazio were also held 2-2 after Riccardo Saponara snatched a point for ten-man Sampdoria nine minutes into injury time in another thriller at the Stadio Olimpico.
Lazio had trailed for much of the game after veteran Fabio Quagliarella scored for the fifth consecutive game.
Sampdoria defender Bartosz Bereszynski was sent off in injury time for a second yellow card with Ciro Immobile pulling a goal back from the spot four minutes later.
But Saponara fired in a dramatic last-gasp equaliser to leave Lazio fifth after their fourth consecutive draw, with Sampdoria 10th.