Hirving Lozano scored after just nine seconds but Napoli lost 3-1 at Hellas Verona on Sunday, allowing Juventus to climb into the Serie A top four after beating Bologna.
Juventus, chasing a 10th straight Scudetto, won 2-0 earlier Sunday to move seven points behind leaders AC Milan with a game in hand.
AC Milan held onto top spot on Saturday despite falling to a 3-0 home defeat by Atalanta, while second-placed Inter settled for a goalless draw at Udinese.
Napoli missed the chance to move ahead of Juventus and sit sixth, two points adrift of the Champions League berths, equal on 34 points with Lazio who beat European rivals Sassuolo 2-1.
“We have only ourselves to blame,” lamented Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso.
“If you score and then at the first opportunity you fall apart, that’s not good.
“We want to return to the Champions League but we can’t if we perform like this.”
Gattuso’s side got off to a perfect start in Verona as, almost straight from kick-off, Mexican forward Lozano fired home Napoli’s fastest-ever Serie A goal after Verona defender Federico Dimarco missed Diego Demme’s long ball.
But Dimarco made up for his mistake by volleying in the equaliser on 34 minutes for eighth-placed Verona.
Antonin Barak put Verona ahead shortly after the hour mark with a low finish into the far corner from a tight angle, before Mattia Zaccagni headed in the third with 11 minutes to go.
Napoli’s record scorer Dries Mertens and Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, who returned after recovering from a shoulder injury and coronavirus, came off the bench in the second half but failed to inspire a comeback.
Napoli are now equal on points with Lazio who rallied past Sassuolo, to stretch their winning streak to four games.
Francesco Caputo found the back of the net for the visitors after six minutes in the Stadio Olimpico before Sergej Milinkovic-Savic pulled the hosts level with a powerful 25th-minute header.
Ciro Immobile scored the winner with 19 minutes to go for his 13th goal this campaign.
Juve back on track
Juventus bounced back from last weekend’s 2-0 league defeat at Inter Milan, edging past 13th-placed Bologna in Turin to keep their title defence alive.
Brazilian midfielder Arthur broke through after quarter of an hour with a long-range shot that took a big deflection off Bologna defender Jerdy Schouten.
It was a first goal for the ex-Barcelona player in 19 appearances since joining Juventus last summer from the La Liga side in a transfer worth up to 82 million euros ($99 million).
American midfielder Weston McKennie scored the second on 71 minutes by nodding in a corner, for his fourth goal in 21 games since moving from Bundesliga side Schalke.
“McKennie is always in the right place, he has great vision,” said Pirlo, hailing an “important” win after last weekend’s loss, which was followed by an Italian Super Cup victory over Napoli.
“We are a strong team, it all depends on us. As we demonstrated in the Super Cup we are not the team seen at the San Siro.
“We did well in the first half but if you don’t manage to close it out, the games always remain in the balance.”
Bologna could have conceded more late on but for goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski who denied Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo in the final four minutes.
“Both Milan teams dropped points yesterday (Saturday) so it was important for us to win today and get some ground back, because it’ll be a race right up until the end,” said McKennie.
Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt returned from coronavirus, coming off the bench for the last quarter of an hour as Juventus extended their unbeaten run against Bologna which stretches back to February 2011.
Genoa, in 16th, won the battle of relegation rivals with Mattia Destro scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Cagliari who fell to their sixth consecutive defeat.
Cagliari confirmed coach Eusebio Di Francesco’s contract had been extended despite the club sitting in the relegation zone without a win since November 7.