Serie A: Napoli title hopes hit by late Empoli defeat
Napoli’s Serie A title ambitions took a knock on Sunday as the third-placed southerners threw away a two-goal lead to fall 3-2 at Empoli.
Luciano Spalletti’s side were 2-0 ahead with ten minutes to go before Scottish midfielder Liam Henderson sparked a revival for the hosts who scored three goals in an eight-minute spell.
With four matches to play this season, Napoli are five points behind leaders Inter Milan and four adrift of second placed AC Milan, who both have a game in hand.
Napoli have not won the Serie A title since the days of club legend Diego Maradona who led them to their two league crowns in 1987 and 1990.
Dries Mertens opened the scoring just before the break with Lorenzo Insigne adding a second eight minutes after the interval.
But Napoli’s defence collapsed in the absence of the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly.
A Kevin Malcuit blunder allowed Henderson to pull a goal back after 80 minutes with Andrea Pinamonti making the most of an error from visiting goalkeeper Alex Meret to grab the equaliser after 83 minutes.
Pinamonti added a second five minutes later for the 14th-placed hosts to end their 16-match winless run going back to December 12 when they beat Napoli 1-0 in Naples.
“Imagining such an end to the match is difficult,” said Spalletti, whose side have now gone three matches without a win.
“But these are games where the opponent continues to fight with the right attitude, when we probably lost a bit of our focus and made mistakes that we shouldn’t make.
“I’m responsible for this team, for its technical and mental attitude, I have to take the consequences for what happens on the pitch.”
Champions League qualification does not seem threatened as Napoli still have a nine-point cushion over AS Roma in fifth.