El Shaarawy strikes to undermine Napoli’s title hopes | Soccer News

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MILAN: Napoli’s bid for a first Serie A title in 32 years suffered a huge setback on Monday as Stephan El Shaarawy’s stoppage-time equalizer snatched a 1-1 draw for Roma.
Lorenzo Insigne’s early penalty appeared to have put third-placed Napoli on course to move within two points of league leaders AC Milan with five games to play, but El Shaarawy’s late intervention gave them away. left four points behind.
Reigning champions Inter Milan are two points behind their city rivals in second place, but one game less.
Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli will be hoping for their first Scudetto since Diego Maradona’s inspired second triumph in 1990, but that moody draw could prove decisive late in the campaign.
“There’s a bit of disappointment,” Spalletti told DAZN. “We didn’t manage to keep the ball as I had hoped at the end of the game and we conceded a largely avoidable goal.”
The point was of little help to Roma’s front four hopefuls Jose Mourinho, who squandered the chance to cut the gap to fourth-placed Juventus to three points.
It’s been a potentially ruinous spell for Napoli, following a 3-2 home loss to Fiorentina last time out.
Napoli took the 11th-minute lead at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona after Hirving Lozano ran a ball into the box and was challenged from behind by Roma defender Roger Ibanez.
The referee initially did not award a penalty, but after a VAR review he pointed the spot and Insigne chose the bottom corner to score his ninth league goal of the season.
The home side could have doubled their advantage in the 20th minute, but Victor Osimhen’s shot was blocked by Chris Smalling and visitor keeper Rui Patricio fended off Lozano’s follow-up effort.
Roma nearly equalized against the run of play before half-time as Osimhen fired Lorenzo Pellegrini’s free-kick into his own crossbar.
England striker Tammy Abraham had a chance to equalize on the hour mark but missed a header from close range.
A tense game threatened to boil over with four players booked within 20 minutes of the second half.
Roma started to look dangerous and were furious that they weren’t awarded a penalty when Nicolo Zaniolo was tackled by Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret.
The referee showed a red card to substitute goalkeeper Daniel Fuzato on the bench in stride.
Mourinho was angry with the officials after the game, saying: “We need more respect, today it looks like we weren’t allowed to play to win.”
Osimhen had the chance to end the game late as he charged on goal, but the Nigerian striker ducked into the side netting.
Spalletti decided to replace Osimhen and Insigne late and it proved costly.
Abraham’s flick found substitute El Shaarawy firing a low shot into the bottom corner in the first of eight minutes of added time.
Momentum was everything with the visitors, but Napoli at least held on for a disappointing draw.
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