Juve defeat at Lazio throws open Serie A title race





Turin (Italy) (AFP) - Italian champions Juventus suffered their first defeat of the season Saturday with a 3-1 loss against Lazio in Rome blowing open the Serie A title race.

Maurizio Sarri's eight-time reigning league champions remain second in the table, two points behind leaders Inter Milan after 15 matches.

Third-placed Lazio clawed to within just three points of Juventus after their first win at home against the Turin giants since December 2003.

Cristiano Ronaldo put Juventus ahead at the Stadio Olimpico when he picked up a Rodrigo Bentancur cross to tap in after 25 minutes.

But Luiz Felipe hit back for the Romans in front of 60,000 fans, nodding in just before the break.

Juan Cuadrado's sending off for a foul on Manuel Lazzari after 69 minutes proved to be the turning point.

Lazio took control as Sergej Milinkovic-Savic connected with a Luis Alberto assist to fire in a stunning goal.

Goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha denied Ronaldo's header on the line while Juventus counterpart Wojciech Szczesny atoned for bringing down Joaquin Correa by saving Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile's resulting penalty.

Felipe Caicedo snatched the third goal five minutes into injury time as Lazio earned their seventh straight win, fuelling ambitions of challenging for a first Serie A title since 2000.

"Lazio for the Scudetto? Maybe, it depends on how much they will be able to continue this extraordinary moment," said Sarri, "let's say it will be a three-way fight."

"The red card changed everything for us," he added.

Juventus had been the only team left in Europe's top leagues to remain unbeaten in all competitions this season.

"My lads did something extraordinary tonight," said Inzaghi.

"We are in an excellent period and we must be ambitious.

"I have always had faith in this team. Six weeks ago people said we weren't getting results, but I remained calm.

"We'll enjoy this for a few hours, but from Thursday must get right back on track and aim to stay in the Europa League."

- Napoli's winless run continues -

Carlo Ancelotti ruled out resigning from his position as last year's Serie A runners-up Napoli saw their winless run reach seven games with a 1-1 draw at struggling Udinese.

Kevin Lasagna scored for Udinese after 32 minutes, picking up a Seko Fofana cross after the Ivorian beat defender Kalidou Koulibaly, to beat Alex Meret in the Napoli goal.

But Piotr Zielinski pulled the visitors level after 69 minutes as Napoli held on for just their fifth point in their last seven games.

Ancelotti's side are seventh in the league -- 17 points behind leaders Inter Milan -- and will bid to seal a Champions League last 16 berth at home against Genk next week.

"If I thought of resignation? No, I feel more involved now than when things were going well," said Ancelotti.

"In football when you do well it's the players' who get the credit, when you go wrong it's the coach's fault.

"So I feel involved in the project especially at this moment.

"We need a spark and hopefully that can be next week in the Champions League."

Berat Djimsiti grabbed a late winner as Atalanta came from behind twice to seal a 3-2 victory over 10-man Verona and stay in touch with the Champions League places.

Atalanta are sixth, one point behind fourth-placed Roma, who occupy the final Champions League spot after their goalless draw at Inter Milan on Friday.

The hosts were pushed hard by Verona, coached by Croatian Ivan Juric, a former player and assistant manager to Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini at Genoa.

Italian forward Samuel Di Carmine fired the visitors ahead after 23 minutes, and completed his brace after 57 minutes.

Atalanta forward Josip Ilicic limped off with a muscle injury with Ruslan Malinovskyi coming on for the hosts after half an hour.

The Ukrainian pulled a goal back for the Bergamo side before the break, with Luis Muriel getting the equaliser from the penalty spot after 64 minutes.

Verona went a man down when Pawel Dawidowicz was sent off for a second yellow card five minutes from time.

Albanian defender Djimsiti pounced on a Rafael Toloi cross to volley in his first goal this season three minutes into injury time, a timely boost ahead of next week's Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

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