SALERNO, Italy: Napoli maintained top spot in Serie A with a 1-0 win at Salernitana on Sunday, but they had to work hard against the relegation battlers as Piotr Zielinski scored a scrappy winner and both sides had players sent off late in the game.
The result leaves Luciano Spalletti’s unbeaten side with 31 points, three clear of second-placed AC Milan, who visit AS Roma in Sunday’s late game. Salernitana are 19th with seven points.
Napoli struggled to threaten in the absence of injured top scorer Victor Osimhen and captain Lorenzo Insigne, who was only fit enough for the bench, but they eventually broke through in chaotic fashion in the 61st minute.
Substitute Andrea Petagna headed against the bar, the ball was cleared as far as Mario Rui and the defender’s shot deflected into the path of Zielinski for a close-range finish.
It was Napoli’s first shot on target and proved to be enough for a precious win, but there was more incident to come as Salernitana midfielder Grigoris Kastanos and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly earned red cards inside the final 20 minutes.
Earlier on Sunday, Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic scored a hat-trick to fire his seventh-placed side to a 3-0 win over a Spezia team stuck in the relegation zone. Fiore have 18 points.
The 21-year-old Serbian’s tally for 2021 now stands at 25 goals, a record only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (36 goals) and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland (26) better in Europe’s top-five leagues.
Empoli rose to 10th, level on 15 points with Juventus, after coming from behind to beat 12th-placed Sassuolo, while Genoa and Venezia, who both sit just above the drop zone, drew 0-0.