Serie A leader AC Milan and defending champion Inter Milan were held to draws by opponents in the lower half of the standings on Friday.
Italy Under-21 left back Destiny Udogie equalized with his first Italian league goal as Udinese secured a 1-1 draw at Milan — less than a week after the Rossoneri were held at last-placed Salernitana to 2-2.
Milan remained two points ahead of Inter, which was held at relegation-threatened Genoa to 0-0 to extend its winless streak to four matches.
The two Milan clubs meet in an Italian Cup derby on Tuesday.
The No. 1 seed in the Italian Serie A. C Milan drew with Udinese at home. Milan dominated the ball in the match but more chances were opened by the opponents. Rafael Leo put Milan ahead in the 29th minute through a pass from Sandro Tonaly. In the second half, Ianoma Udogi equalized for Udinese with a pass from Roberto Pereira. It was a goal that was suspected to be a handball before the goal was scored. The match ended in a draw when Milan’s attempts to win failed.
Inter Milan, meanwhile, face Genoa in a bid to advance to the league if they win. But a goalless draw awaited Inter. Despite holding 72 per cent of the ball in the match, Inter failed to score a single goal in the match. A great opportunity knocked back at the bar and they backfired. Danilo’s header from Huck’s corner bounced off the bar. With this, he has now scored 57 points from 27 matches. Inter Milan are second with 55 points from 26 games.
Inter Milan failed to capitalise on AC Milan’s home draw against Udinese on Friday (Feb 25) with a goalless draw at Genoa which allowed their local rivals to stay top of Serie A.
Champions Inter would have moved level on 57 points with Milan had they won at relegation strugglers Genoa but could not make the most of long spells of dominance at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris and stay two points off the lead.
Napoli can now reclaim the summit on goal difference with a win at Champions League-chasing Lazio on Sunday night before they host Milan next weekend.
Champions Inter have a game in hand on the two contenders to their title but have failed to win in their last four league matches in a mini-slump which has also seen them all-but eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool.
The Milan giants will face off in the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final on Tuesday while Napoli will have a whole week to prepare for another huge match after falling to a sobering Europa League defeat by Barcelona.
Inter had enough chances to take the points on Friday but again couldn’t find the finishing touch — a common thread in a worrying run of form for Simone Inzaghi’s side — against a spirited Genoa team backed by a passionate home following.
They came closest when Danilo D’Ambrosio headed Hakan Calhanoglu’s 62nd-minute corner off the bar, one of a host of opportunities on a breathless night in which Calhanoglu and Edin Dzeko, among others, missed some great chances to win the game.
Leo Ostigard was immense at the back for Genoa, who stay in the bottom three on 17 points after their fifth straight draw, four away from Venezia who sit just outside the relegation zone.
Over to you Napoli – Both Milan giants failing to win at home has presented Napoli with the chance to go top, albeit they face the toughest task of the three, facing Lazio away.
It is now 32 years since the Diego Maradona and Careca inspired Napoli side won their last title, but surely this is the year to end this run. Neither Milan side have a forward line which can be relied upon to win games, with both putting all their hopes on veteran centre forwards to score enough goals down the stretch and though Inter remain favourites they do not look like recapturing their early season form. While the Naples side have scored the least of the three so far, you feel they have the capabiity to eke out the close wins down the stretch. It might be a case of now or never, with Inter likey to be spending heavily and Juventus sure to be stronger next season will be a much tougher title to win.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Leo Ostigard (Genoa) – There are certain men you want in a defensive struggle – and the Norwegian centre back is certainly one of them. He was not the only Genoa player prepared to put his body on the line, with Johan Vasquez and Milan Badelj also making crucial blocks but the Rossoblu number 55 shone brightest. It might seem a big step from playing with Stoke in the Championship (where he was on loan in the first half of the season) to quelling Eden Dzeko but he was more than up to the task.
Genoa: Sirigu 7, Hefti 7, Maksimovic 6, Ostigard 8*, Vasquez 7, Sturaro 7, Badelj 7, Melegoni 7, Portanova 6, Yeboah 6, Gudmundsson 6.
Subs: Cambiasso 7, Calafiori 6, Kallon 6, Amiri 6, Rovella 6.
Inter: Handanovic 6, D’Ambrosio 7, De Vrij 7, Bastoni 6, Dumfries 6, Barella 7, Brozovic 7, Calhanoglu 7, Perisic 7, Sanchez 6, Dzeko 6.
Subs: Vidal 5, Vecino 6, Martinez 7, Dimarco 7, Caicedo 6.