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Napoli’s Milik defiant over title chances after Parma double

Napoli forward Arkadiusz Milik still believes in an unlikely Serie A title triumph despite the 13-point gap separating them from leaders Juventus © AFP / Isabella BONOTTO

Milan, Italy, Feb 24 – Defiant Arkadiusz Milik says Napoli still believe in an unlikely Serie A title triumph after his brace helped his team to a comfortable 4-0 win at Parma on Sunday, despite the yawning gap separating them from leaders Juventus.

Striker Milik struck twice either side of half-time, his first a cheeky free-kick under the wall Parma and past Luigi Sepe, as Napoli stayed 13 points behind reigning champions Juve, who look odds-on for their eighth straight Scudetto.

But the Pole is convinced that Carlo Ancelotti’s side still have a chance of making a major upset ahead of their clash with Juve in Naples next week.

“Juve are far away but next week we want to play well against them at the (Stadio) San Paolo,” said Milik, who now has 14 league goals for the season.

“We’re a long way from the title but we need to keep going and hope that they go through a bad patch.”

Earlier on Sunday, Paulo Dybala came off the bench to temporarily send Juventus 16 points clear with a simple 67th-minute winner, after which Napoli walloped Parma in an impressive display that included their first league goals in three weeks.

Piotr Zielinski opening the scoring in the 19th minute before Milik bagged his brace and Adam Ounas completed the rout with an angled strike at the end of a superb passing move eight minutes from the end.

The win puts Napoli 10 points ahead of third-place Inter Milan, who travel to Fiorentina in Sunday’s late game, although their chances of a first title since the days of Diego Maradona remain slim.

Juventus know that anything other than a defeat next Sunday effectively seals their eighth straight league title before they try to overhaul a 2-0 deficit against Atletico Madrid in their Champions League last-16 second leg at the Allianz Stadium.

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“We’ll be up against an even more defensive Atletico, we’ll have to be even more quick and precise with our passes, something that we weren’t today,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.

“I’m convinced we can go through.”

– Roma fightback –

Bologna stay third-from-bottom on 18 points and three from safety, despite pushing Juve, much-changed from the side that lost in Madrid midweek, all the way and almost equalising in the final minute when Mattia Perin pushed Nicola Sansone’s long-range drive onto the post.

SPAL picked a point at Sassuolo and moved five points ahead of Bologna thanks to Andrea Petagna’s 68th-minute equaliser from the spot.

Rock-bottom Chievo held Genoa to a goalless draw.

Sampdoria’s veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella struck the winner from the spot in the second half against Cagliari to bag his 17th goal of the season. Ninth-place Sampdoria remain in touch with the European places.

On Saturday, Edin Dzeko’s 95th-minute winner completed Roma’s fightback at lowly Frosinone as they won 3-2 to keep pace with fourth-placed AC Milan, easy 3-0 winners at home to Bologna’s relegation rivals Empoli on Friday night.

The Bosnian’s winner keeps Roma one point behind Milan, who occupy the final Champions League place, ahead of next week’s Rome derby against Lazio.

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Lazio are six points behind Roma after their match with Udinese set for Monday night was postponed as it was considered too close to the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final against Milan.

Simone Inzaghi’s side are level on 38 points with Atalanta and Torino, who beat Atalanta 2-0 on Saturday with goals either side of half-time from Armando Izzo and Iago Falque.


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