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El Shaarawy strikes to dent Napoli’s Series A title hopes

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Roma’s Italian forward Stephan El Shaarawy (centre) celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A match against SSC Napoli. AFP

El Shaarawy strikes to dent Napoli’s Series A title hopes

Napoli's bid for a first Serie A title in 32 years suffered a massive setback on Monday as Stephan El Shaarawy’s injury-time equaliser snatched a 1-1 draw for Roma.

Lorenzo Insigne’s early penalty looked to have put third-placed Napoli on track to move within two points of league leaders AC Milan with five matches remaining, but El Shaarawy’s late intervention left them four points behind.

Reigning champions Inter Milan are two points behind their city rivals in second place, but with a game in hand.

Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli are hoping to lift a first Scudetto since the second Diego Maradona-inspired triumph in 1990, but this bad-tempered draw could prove decisive come the end of the campaign.

“There is a bit of disappointment,” Spalletti told DAZN. “We did not manage to keep the ball as I had hoped at the end of the match and we conceded a largely avoidable goal.”

The point was not much help to the top-four hopes of Jose Mourinho’s Roma, who missed the chance to cut the gap to fourth-placed Juventus to three points.

It has been a potentially ruinous spell for Napoli, following a 3-2 home loss to Fiorentina last time out.

Napoli took the lead in the 11th minute at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona after Hirving Lozano ran onto 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 to the spot and Insigne picked out 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 visiting goalkeeper Rui Patricio pushed away Lozano’s follow-up effort.

Roma almost equalised against the run of play before half-time as Osimhen flicked Lorenzo Pellegrini’s free-kick against his own crossbar.

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