With pressure mounting on Gennaro Gattuso, the Napoli coach was given a huge boost as his side recorded a 2-1 victory over champions Juventus in Serie A on Sunday.
Second half goals from Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne were enough for the Partenopei to down the league leaders, despite a Cristiano Ronaldo effort in stoppage time.
Defeat allowed Inter and Lazio to close in at the top of Serie A, although neither side was able to fully take advantage following disappointing draws earlier in the day.
Napoli avoid making unwanted history
With so much expected of them before a ball was kicked this season, the campaign has been disastrous for the Azzurri. Languishing in the bottom half of the table prior to kick-off, Napoli were closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League spots and had already dismissed Carlo Ancelotti in favour of Gattuso on the bench.
The change did not appear to be yielding results, and after four straight league defeats, a loss against Juventus would have seen Napoli record their worst losing streak in their history.
Yet, such is the unpredictability of football, the Partenopei inflicted only a second defeat in nine meetings on Juventus and ensure they did not write themselves into the history books.
Cristiano Ronaldo makes history of his own
After a relatively slow start to the season for the Portuguese superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo has burst into life over the past few months and fired Juventus clear at the top of Serie A.
The forward was made to wait until stoppage time, but latched onto a long ball to score for the eighth consecutive match and give Juventus a glimmer of hope. Incredibly, it was the fourth such scoring streak in his illustrious career, surpassing Lionel Messi’s three eight-game streaks.
With 737 senior career goals, Ronaldo is closing in on Real Madrid icon Ferenc Puskas and is just nine goals away from equalling the Hungarian.
Inter and Lazio offered glimmer of hope
Prior to the weekend’s action, Juventus held a four and six point lead over Inter and Lazio respectively. With Inter slipping to a 1-1 draw against Cagliari and Lazio scraping the same result in the Derby della Capitale against Roma earlier on Sunday, the chasing pack conceivably feared the gap extending.
However, Juventus’ shock defeat, only their second of the season, saw Inter and Lazio step closer and keep in touch in the Scudetto race.
Perhaps most worryingly for Bianconeri coach Maurizio Sarri was the level of performance from his team, and the disappointing display will certainly offer encouragement to the teams behind them.