Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has challenged his players to rectify the club’s wretched recent results against rivals Napoli to move top of the Serie A table.

Juve have lost five of their past seven league meetings with the reigning champions, including a 5-1 thrashing in January, but are favourites for Friday evening’s clash at Allianz Stadium.

The in-form Bianconeri sit second in the table and will climb above leaders Inter Milan for at least 24 hours by registering an 11th victory of the season.

Fifth-placed Napoli are struggling to mount a title defence and, having last month reappointed former boss Walter Mazzarri after sacking Rudi Garcia, slipped 11 points adrift of Inter following a 3-0 home loss to them on Sunday.

“Tomorrow will be very tough,” Allegri told a press conference.

“Napoli stayed in the game against Inter until the second goal and we’ve only beaten them once in our last seven meetings – that’s something we need to put right.

“They’re a dangerous side away from home and have picked up 17 points on the road already.”

Juventus are just two points behind Inter, with whom they drew 1-1 on November 26, following a nine-match unbeaten run.

Allegri wants a minimum of six points from Juve’s next five fixtures to ensure the club reach the halfway point of the campaign in a stronger position than last term.

“This is a six-pointer – we have five games left before we reach the midway point of the season and they’ll all be difficult,” said Allegri, whose side finished a disappointing 2022-23 campaign in seventh position.

“Our target is to finish the first half of the campaign with more points than we did last term, when we had 38.

“We hope to achieve our target but we mustn’t take it for granted.

“Part of this job involves dealing with the pressure but we have to remember the league doesn’t finish tomorrow. There’s still a long way to go.”

Mazzarri, who initially managed Napoli between 2009 and 2013, beat Atalanta 2-1 in the first match of his second spell before the resounding loss to Inter.

The 62-year-old hopes his team can kick-start a revival by beating one of their fiercest rivals.

“Juventus v Napoli is a match that we know well because of the special sensations it generates and the importance of two teams that have been protagonists of the championship in recent years,” he told a press conference.

“We are playing against an opponent who is doing very well and there is little to add about the depth of the match.

“We go there as Italian champions and we want to highlight the progress that the boys are making.

“If we look at the squads, I don’t think there is as much of a difference as the league table says. This is also true compared to Inter.

“Unfortunately in football there are also moments and this is not a brilliant period for Napoli, especially in relation to the great last season.

“In football sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a change, it’s a question of trust but also of luck.

“There are moments which are going badly but a positive episode can change the wind.”

Inter Milan moved back to the top of Serie A in convincing style with a 3-0 win at defending champions Napoli.

Simone Inzaghi’s side had been knocked off the summit by Juventus’ victory at Monza on Friday, but emphasised their title credentials after being set on their way by a stunning goal from Hakan Calhanoglu.

Nicolo Barella doubled Inter’s lead just after the hour mark and Marcus Thuram made certain of all three points five minutes from time.

The win takes Inter two points clear of Juventus and 11 in front of Napoli, who have now taken just seven points from a possible 21 at home.

The home side in fact made a bright start and could have gone ahead in the third minute, only for Yann Sommer to produce a brilliant save from a shot from Eljif Elmas which looked destined for the top corner.

Both sides were happy to shoot from distance and Calhanoglu went close at the other end with a left-footed effort from outside the area before the visitors briefly thought they had broken the deadlock.

Thuram played a delightful one-two with Lautaro Martinez before firing a shot across Alex Meret and into the far corner, only to see the flag correctly go up for offside.

Inter were forced into an early change when Stefan de Vrij suffered a thigh injury and had to be replaced by Carlos Augusto, the reshuffle possibly allowing Elmas to get free in the area moments later to bring a good save from Sommer at his near post.

There was nothing Sommer could do about Matteo Politano’s long-range effort after 36 minutes however, and the Switzerland international was relieved to see the ball cannon back off the crossbar.

When the opening goal finally arrived it proved well worth the wait, Denzel Dumfries heading a deep cross back to Barella to flick the ball into the path of Calhanoglu, who struck a sumptuous low volley which swerved away from Meret and nestled in the corner of the net.

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen appealed in vain for a penalty early in the second half after tangling with Francesco Acerbi just inside the area, the ball then breaking for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia to bring a good save from Sommer.

But it was the visitors who found the all-important second goal shortly after the hour mark as Barella collected a firmly-struck pass from Martinez and slalomed past two defenders before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

Osimhen flashed a header narrowly wide as Napoli tried to get back into the game but Thuram settled matters five minutes from time as he turned in a low, driven cross from substitute Juan Cuadrado.

Victor Osimhen’s suitors are running out of time to capture the Napoli hitman as president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed the Nigerian is close to agreeing a new contract.

Osimhen, 24, has lit up Serie A since arriving in Naples from Lille in July 2020, with his greatest achievement so far scoring 31 league goals as the Azzurri clinched a long-overdue Scudetto last season.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid are reportedly among the clubs keen to fire up their forward lines with the recruitment of Osimhen, who remains hot property despite enduring an injury-ravaged 2023-24 campaign so far.

While a future move to the Premier League or LaLiga is still entirely possible, De Laurentiis on Saturday revealed Osimhen is on the verge of agreeing a new deal at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

He told Gazzetta ahead of Sunday’s clash with Inter Milan: “With Osimhen we are at the stage of signing the contract, the one that has been left pending since last summer.”

Napoli’s other superstar is Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has made a huge impression since making his unheralded switch from Dinamo Batumi last year.

De Laurentiis is even less concerned about the Georgia winger departing Napoli, though, adding: “Kvaratskhelia still has a four-year contract, what’s the point of asking about him now? Let’s try not to be too negative.”

On the showdown with Inter, which continues a baptism of fire for new boss Walter Mazzarri, De Laurentiis said: “We don’t have a left-back. Two are out injured.

“Then we have a new coach, to whom we have given a huge responsibility, because he has had to immediately face Atalanta and Real Madrid. Now we have another tour de force as we play Inter and then Juventus.

“Are two days enough to prepare for Inter, without two full-backs? It seems a bit difficult to me. Then five days to prepare for Juventus… we have to lay all our problems out on the table so we can be objective about them.”

Alessandro Zanoli will face a late check before the match while left-backs Mario Rui and Mathias Olivera are out for three weeks and two months respectively. On Inter’s treatment table are defenders Benjamin Pavard and Alessandro Bastoni.

Federico Gatti hit a last-gasp winner to send Juventus top of Serie A with a battling 2-1 victory at Monza.

The hosts had looked like rescuing a point when Valentin Carboni struck at the start of stoppage time to cancel out Adrien Rabiot’s opener.

But Juve would strike back deep into added time as Gatti’s effort sealed the three points to take Massimiliano Allegri’s side top.

Dusan Vlahovic saw an early penalty saved by Michele Di Gregorio after Andrea Cambiaso had been upended in the box but Rabiot headed in soon after before the late drama saw Juventus go top.

In the Bundesliga, Davie Selke hit the only goal as Cologne won at fellow strugglers Darmstadt 1-0 to leave both sides on nine points.

Selke struck on the half-hour mark to seal what could prove to be a vital victory for the visitors.

Las Palmas beat 10-man Getafe 2-0 to move up to eighth in LaLiga.

Julian Araujo hung in the air to head the home side ahead moments before the break, with Getafe’s hopes of battling back suffering a blow when Omar Alderete was sent off.

With just three minutes of the second half gone, Alderete was initially booked after catching Enzo Loiodice on the ankle but the yellow card was upgraded to red after a VAR review.

Substitute Cristian Herrera wrapped up the points for Las Palmas as he tapped in from close range late on.

Meanwhile in Ligue 1, Reims moved level on points with fourth-placed Lille courtesy of a 2-1 home win over Strasbourg.

Amir Richardson opened the scoring for the hosts early on and the lead was doubled courtesy of Mohamed Daramy’s strike before the break.

Strasbourg pulled a goal back through Kevin Gameiro’s late penalty but Will Still’s side held on for the points.

Federico Gatti scored a last-gasp winner to send Juventus top of Serie A with a battling 2-1 victory at Monza.

The hosts had looked like rescuing a point when Valentin Carboni struck at the start of stoppage time to cancel out Adrien Rabiot’s opener.

But Juve would strike back deep into added time as Gatti’s effort sealed the three points to take Massimiliano Allegri’s side top ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.

Dusan Vlahovic saw an early penalty saved by Michele Di Gregorio after Andrea Cambiaso had been upended in the box.

The visitors would not be kept at bay for long, though, as Rabiot broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when he headed home a corner.

Allegri’s men could not build on their lead however, with Di Gregorio rarely tested.

The Monza goalkeeper kept out a driven Rabiot effort with ease while Gatti fired over from distance with chances at a minimum.

Monza thought they had made Juve pay for not doubling their advantage when substitute Carboni scored.

His ball into the box evaded everyone and drifted in past Juve stopper Wojciech Szczesny as the home side scored with their first effort on target of the night.

Despite their celebrations, Monza could not hold on for a point as, with Juventus throwing men forward, Rabiot crossed low for the unmarked Gatti.

The defender fluffed his lines with his first chance but thrashed the ball home at the second attempt to seal a dramatic win for the visitors.

The victory takes Juventus top of the table, moving a point clear of Inter Milan, who face a tough trip to fourth-placed Napoli on Sunday evening.

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli admitted his side must get their Serie A title challenge back on track with victory in Saturday’s home game against Frosinone.

Just one win in their previous five league matches has seen Milan slip six points behind leaders Inter and four behind second-placed Juventus.

A home Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund in midweek left Milan bottom of their group and while they can still qualify for the knockout stages with one game to play, the pressure is mounting on Pioli.

The 58-year-old former Lazio, Inter and Fiorentina head coach told a press conference: “Frosinone are doing very well and have confidence, (Eusebio) Di Francesco is doing a great job.

“They are aggressive, but we know how to cause them problems. We want to win, and we need to. We need points, the league campaign is long.

“As usual, we’ll need to show concentration, determination and quality. We need to show we are still competitive and put in a good performance.”

Milan beat Pioli’s former club Fiorentina 1-0 at the San Siro last week to halt a domestic league run of two draws and two defeats and a slump in form has coincided with a lengthy injury list.

Pioli was without half a dozen key players for Tuesday night’s loss to Dortmund and saw defender Malick Thiaw forced off early in the second half.

Thiaw will not feature against Frosinone and Olivier Giroud is still suspended, while Rafael Leao, Noah Okafor, Pierre Kalulu, Simon Kjaer, Marco Pellegrino and Mattia Caldara are unlikely to feature.

Pioli added: “There are still 25 league games to play. I told the players not to come in on Thursday to Milanello if they didn’t believe we could reach Inter and Juventus.”

Frosinone boss Di Francesco has injury concerns of his own as his 10th-placed side bid to halt their poor away form, with Luca Mazzitelli, Riccardo Marchizza, Pol Lirola, Francesco Gelli and Marco Brescianini all doubtful.

Frosinone’s impressive start to the season after promotion has been built on five wins and a draw in seven home league matches, but they are winless on the road.

Di Francesco told a press conference: “We need to get this obstacle out of our heads. We made the last point (on the road) in Salerno (in September).

“We need to try to approach the away match with the right attitude. Here at home, however, we feel stronger when going to face our opponents. This way of thinking certainly needs to be changed.”

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri says he is focused on the dangers Monza pose rather than the opportunity to go top of Serie A.

Victory at ninth-placed Monza on Friday will take Juventus above Inter, at least for 48 hours, with the leaders facing an awkward assignment at fourth-placed Napoli on Sunday evening.

But Monza upset Juventus 1-0 at home last season before recording a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

“It won’t be easy in Monza and we’ve known this since last year,” Allegri said at his pre-match press conference.

“They are the only team that took six points off of us last season and we didn’t find a way to score against them.

“We face a team with good players who have put many teams in difficulty, the numbers say so.

“Monza, as often happens in football, demonstrates that the difference is mainly made by the defensive phase: in the last 10 games they have not conceded a goal three times and in the other seven they have only conceded one.

“They all defend together, united, so it will be a difficult match.”

While Monza have lost only once in 10 games – 1-0 at Jose Mourinho’s Roma – the Bianconeri are unbeaten in eight with six wins during that sequence.

But Allegri, whose side drew 1-1 at home to Inter last weekend, has played down Juventus’ impressive start to the season.

He said: “We know what our limits are, the group is cohesive and we hold a good spot in the standings, but we haven’t achieved anything yet and we know that in football you can’t afford to give up.

“There are six games left until the end of the first round – four away games and two direct clashes at home – so we have to take one step at a time.

“We always have to look at fifth in the standings and have to watch our backs to maintain the gap from the teams behind us.

“However, this cannot be done with the result of a single match: the championship is a marathon, not a speed race.

“Being two points behind Inter is a source of pride, but again, we haven’t achieved anything yet.”

Juventus have both Danilo and Alex Sandro, who made a late appearance from the bench against Inter, available after injury and will check on Manuel Locatelli.

Italy midfielder Locatelli played the final half-hour against Inter after suffering a fractured rib that ruled him out of international duty in November.

Allegri said: “In his case it’s a problem of pain: against Inter he came on and managed to lend a hand to the team.

“We’ll see how he responds in training. If he is not available, I will make my assessments on Hans Nicolussi Caviglia, otherwise we will find another solution.”

Inter Milan remain two points clear at the top of Serie A after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at nearest rivals Juventus.

Dusan Vlahovic gave the home side the lead after starting and finishing a well-worked move in the 27th minute, but Lautaro Martinez equalised just five minutes later with a first-time finish which capped a stunning team goal.

The latest instalment of the derby d’Italia petered out in the second half and Juve never seriously threatened to complete a sixth straight win which would have taken them a point clear at the summit.

The first good chance fell to the home side in the 15th minute and Federico Chiesa should have done better than shooting wide after being picked out in the centre of the area.

At the other end, Martinez was unable to significantly trouble Wojciech Szczesny with a header after getting on the end of a deep cross from Denzel Dumfries.

However, any fears that two teams with such superb defensive records would lead to a stalemate were extinguished in brilliant style as Juve took the lead in the 27th minute.

Vlahovic won the ball in midfield and released Chiesa to race into the penalty area, where he pulled the ball back perfectly for Vlahovic to open up his body and side-foot a shot into the bottom corner.

Vlahovic’s fifth goal of the season was his first since mid-September but was cancelled out five minutes later thanks to a stunning team move from the visitors.

Goalkeeper Yann Sommer’s ball to Dumfries was met with a first-time pass to Nicolo Barella, who deftly turned the ball immediately into the path of Marcus Thuram.

Thuram surged forward before picking out Martinez with a low cross which the Argentinian struck first-time into the bottom corner – just the eighth goal Massimiliano Allegri’s side have conceded in the league this season.

Inter dominated possession in the second half as they showed why they came into the fixture with a 100 per cent away record, although there were more yellow cards than clear-cut chances in a disappointing 45 minutes.

Juan Cuadrado had the right to feel hard done by at being booked after seemingly winning the ball in a 50-50 challenge, but Filip Kostic could have no complaints about being cautioned for a cynical foul which halted a counter-attack from the visitors.

A first-half penalty from Theo Hernandez helped AC Milan return to winning ways in Serie A with a 1-0 victory over Fiorentina.

Stefano Pioli’s champions had not won in the division since October after home defeats to Juventus and Udinese were sandwiched between 2-2 draws on the road at Napoli and Lecce before the international break.

While it was far from vintage Milan, France defender Hernandez made the difference with his second goal of the season after he won and converted a spot-kick at the end of the first half to earn a much-needed three points.

History was made late in the victory when Pioli introduced 15-year-old Francesco Camarda for his debut, making him the youngest ever player to appear in Serie A.

Milan’s hopes of a first league win since October 7 were dented by the absence of the suspended Olivier Giroud and injured attacker Rafael Leao.

Christian Pulisic was back after a hamstring injury though and he forced Pietro Terracciano into action midway through a tense first half at the San Siro.

After chances had been few and far between, Milan started to take a stranglehold of the contest with Davide Calabria denied, but Fiorentina remained a threat.

Eight-goal hitman Nicolas Gonzalez fired wide before the break and the half looked destined to end goalless until Hernandez took matters into his own hand in stoppage-time.

Full-back Hernandez was fouled inside the area by Fabiano Parisi and was able to dust himself down to slot home from 12 yards and make it 1-0 to Milan.

Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano had seen enough and introduced Maxime Lopez for Arthur at half-time.

 

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It had the desired effort with a string of opportunities created for Gonzalez, but a combination of Mike Maignan and the woodwork kept the hosts ahead.

Milan head coach Pioli brought off Pulisic on the hour mark after his prolonged absence, with ex-Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek brought on after his own recent return from injury.

And the chance to clinch the points arrived for the home side with 15 minutes left when Hernandez sent Luka Jovic clear, but Terracciano was equal to his effort.

Pioli sent on Camarda for Jovic in the 83rd minute and in the process made the 15-year-old the league’s youngest ever player, but Milan were indebted to a fine late save from Maignan to keep out Rolando Mandragora’s close-range effort and help his team end their four-match winless run in Serie A.

Elif Elmas’ goal got Walter Mazzarri’s return to Napoli off to a winning start after his side beat Atalanta 2-1 in Serie A

Napoli took the lead through Khvicha Kvaratskhelia just before half-time and a frenetic period followed as both sides had a flurry of chances before the break.

Ademola Lookman levelled for Atalanta in a dominant second half for the hosts, but a mistake at the back allowed Elmas to score a winner in the 79th minute.

Three points moved Napoli third in Serie A ahead of AC Milan’s match later on Saturday, while Atalanta dropped to sixth.

Mario Pasalic had the first real chance 20 minutes with a great header from a free-kick, but Pierluigi Gollini made a strong low dive to his left to save.

There was worry for Atalanta just before the half-hour mark as Davide Zappacosta limped off the pitch and was eventually substituted for Hans Hateboer.

Napoli found the net in the 33rd minute when Giacomo Raspadori’s curling cross picked out Amir Rrahmani, who looped a header into the top corner but the goal was disallowed for offside.

The visitors were then also forced into an early change as Mathias Olivera went down in pain after slipping on the pitch and was subsequently carried off on a stretcher in the 38th minute.

Napoli took the lead in the 44th minute after a great cross from Giovanni Di Lorenzo found Kvaratskhelia bursting forward, leaving Marco Carnesecchi no chance as the Georgian’s powerful header flew past him.

The chances suddenly came thick and fast as Atalanta nearly pulled one back moments later when Hateboer found Teun Koopmeiners running at the back post, but Gollini made a fine save to claw away the danger.

The visitors nearly doubled their advantage before the break when Piotr Zielinski forced Carnesecchi into a brilliant fingertip save before Di Lorenzo’s follow-up was cleared and the ball then fell to Matteo Politano, but his first-time strike was denied by a sliding block from Pasalic.

A change in momentum saw Atalanta level in the 53rd minute after Hateboer crossed into the box and Lookman flicked a header into the bottom left corner.

They continued to threaten and found the net in the 67th with a brilliant team move finished by Pasalic, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Koopmeiners then had an effort blocked by the visiting defence before Charles de Ketelaere’s strike curled around the post.

However, a poor clearance from Carnesecchi allowed Napoli to retake the lead as the ball fell to Victor Osimhen, who did well to tap it through to Elmas and the midfielder rolled the ball into the bottom corner.

Atalanta had a tame penalty shout waved away in the final stages when Luis Muriel was challenged by Di Lorenzo and Napoli were able to hold on in stoppage time.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri has suggested Sunday’s table-topping clash with Inter Milan is not the time for change.

Inter go into the latest instalment of the derby d’Italia with a two-point advantage at the top of the Serie A table.

A sixth success in a row for Juventus would take them to the summit and Allegri has hinted he would not be making radical changes to his winning side.

The 56-year-old told a press conference: “We’re approaching the game as best we can and we’ve prepared well for it.

“It’s a big test for us and it can help us improve as a team. We’re up against the league leaders and the title favourites.

“We have lots of midfield options and I don’t think switching formation is a good idea. All our forwards are in good shape. They have to make a decisive contribution.”

Juventus conceded their first goal since September in the 2-1 home win over Cagliari last time out and Allegri continued: “It will come down to small margins tomorrow and it should be an excellent test for us. The lads are all ready to play.

“It’s sure to be a great football spectacle with a full stadium – but the season doesn’t end tomorrow.

“It’s been a long time since we were playing for top spot. We must show our desire to win it. I’m confident the lads will perform well.

“We’re approaching the game as best we can and we’ve prepared well for it. It’s a big test for us and it can help us improve as a team. We’re up against the league leaders and the title favourites.

“I have a solid, close-knit group of players who are ready to produce a big performance in what will be a fantastic match for Italian football. We must keep working away and maintain our hunger.

“Football is full of surprises and you have to deal with them calmly.”

On their opponents, he added: “(Simone) Inzaghi and Inter are doing really well. They give little away and if they take the lead, it’s difficult to get back in the game.”

Inter have a 100 per cent away record and are chasing a seventh-successive victory in all competitions.

Boss Inzaghi told his team’s pre-match press conference: “It will be a challenging game, with maximum concentration required.”

Benjamin Pavard is again ruled out for the visitors with the knee injury sustained in the win at Atalanta three weeks ago, while fellow defender Alessandro Bastoni joins him on the sidelines because of a calf issue sustained on international duty with Italy.

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has urged his side to remain “consistent” ahead of their meeting with Fiorentina on Saturday.

Following the conclusion of the international break, Serie A action resumes with Milan hoping to return to winning ways at the San Siro.

Despite their good start to the season, Milan have not won a league game since the beginning of October and are now third in the table following two losses and two draws in their last four Serie A matches.

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Those last four matches have seen Milan’s opponents rally in the second half to snatch wins or come from behind to earn a draw, but Pioli has called on his team to achieve consistency throughout games.

He told a press conference: “I have many responsibilities, I remain focused on trying to always do better together with the club. So far, we haven’t achieved what we should have, but we’ve taken responsibility.

“The team are working well and are united, but we can do better. We’re only thinking about tomorrow’s game. For four consecutive matches, our second-half performances have cost us.

“Our concentration levels mustn’t drop, and we need to be consistent throughout the game. We haven’t lost our spirit.

“Words are meaningless and facts do the talking. We’ve analysed our mistakes and mustn’t repeat them. We have to perform at a high level for 90 minutes. We need to show that we’re a competitive side.

“Fiorentina have always caused us problems, and we’ll need to be compact, determined and decisive. They play attacking football, get a lot of men forward and are certainly a difficult side to face.”

Milan have been handed a boost with Christian Pulisic, Davide Calabria and Ruben Loftus-Cheek available for Saturday’s clash, but they will still be without Simon Kjaer, Rafael Leao and Noah Okafor.

Pioli also confirmed that 15-year-old forward Francesco Camarda has been training with the squad and could be used in future games if needed.

“I think talent is ageless, Francesco is talented. Sometimes, destiny creates certain opportunities, and both we and him need to remain calm,” Piolo added.

“He’s a very young lad but also very mature character-wise, and he’s ready to give us a hand if needed.

“Whether he’s used will depend on many factors, but he’s trained well with us in the past few days. I’m sure he has a great future ahead of him.”

Walter Mazzarri has been named as the new manager of Napoli.

The experienced 62-year-old replaces Rudi Garcia, who lasted only five months in the role.

The Serie A champions have struggled in their title defence, winning only six of their 12 matches, and sit 10 points behind leaders Inter Milan.

Napoli revealed the news in a brief post on social media, saying: “Walter Mazzarri is the new coach of Napoli. Welcome back Mister.”

Mazzarri has huge experience in Serie A, including coaching Napoli from 2009 to 2013.

It was a successful tenure, with Napoli qualifying for the Champions League for the first time, winning the Coppa Italia and finishing second in Serie A in his final season.

His most recent job came at Cagliari but he lasted less than a year, leaving in May 2022 with the club on the brink of relegation.

Empoli increased the pressure on under-fire Napoli boss Rudi Garcia with a 1-0 win in Serie A.

Viktor Kovalenko’s injury-time winner gave the visitors the smash-and-grab points in Naples and left Garcia in no doubt about how the home fans feel about him after he received jeers.

Last year’s champions are in fourth after this sorry defeat.

It could have been so different had the hosts taken two early chances, but they came up against inspired Empoli goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

The Albania international tipped Matteo Politano’s effort wide and then kept out Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header from the resulting corner.

Napoli thought they had taken the lead in the 27th minute after Giovanni Simeone poked home but he was ruled offside.

Empoli showed they meant business and fired two warning shots before the break when Matteo Cancellieri fizzed a shot just wide and then Andrea Ranocchia volleyed inches over.

Napoli took a while to get going after the break and then found Berisha was in no mood to concede.

Jesper Lindstrom, who had just come on, fired a wicked effort from 20 yards that was heading for the top corner, but the goalkeeper made a superb flying save.

He then twice denied Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as Napoli kept knocking on the door.

First he kept out an arrowed effort from the Georgian and then used his leg to save another low shot.

It looked like Napoli would be mulling over two points dropped as the game headed into injury time, but things got a lot worse as Empoli stole the win.

In the first minute of injury time Kovalenko found space on the edge of the area and found the far post with a delicious curling effort which beat goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and went in off the post.

There was no time for Napoli to respond and Garcia was left staring down the barrel.

Frosinone coach Eusebio Di Francesco feels his side will have to play beyond their limits when they face the “most complete” team Inter Milan at the San Siro on Sunday.

The Nerazzurri secured a place in the Champions League knockout stages with a 1-0 win away at RB Salzburg on Wednesday night, which was a fifth-straight victory through all competitions.

Simone Inzaghi’s side, though, were knocked off the top of Serie A after Juventus beat Cagliari on Saturday.

Frosinone, who were promoted to the top flight this season, got themselves back on track last weekend with victory over Empoli, having lost back-to-back league games.

Canaries coach Di Francesco, though, is all too aware of just what challenge awaits his side at the San Siro.

“I believe that in order to compete with Inter we will have to outdo ourselves,” Di Francesco said.

“Inter are the most complete team, they are difficult to face and a club who have given continuity to the work of their coach.

“He has many weapons at his disposal, they are so difficult to deal with from all points of view.

“But what is most scary about Inter is the awareness, the knowledge they have among themselves which makes them a tough team to beat.

“If so far we have put in 10 out of 10, now to be able to compete with this Inter we will have to put in, I won’t say double, but come close.

“We must go and play this match with the same enthusiasm we have had so far.”

Despite the challenges ahead, Di Francesco wants his side to stay true to the values which have helped push them towards the top half of the table.

“In terms of the characteristics of the players who will be involved, the right solutions must be chosen, but we must not lose our identity and our principles of play,” said Di Francesco, who took over the newly-promoted side in the summer following the departure of Fabio Grosso.

“We must rely on the fact of enthusiasm, of the great desire to go and play the match.”

The Frosinone coach told a press conference: “I don’t share the concept that it’s not possible to face Inter with a smile and try to have fun – factors that will have to accompany us until the end of the championship this season.”

Di Francesco feels his players must focus on their collective goal, rather than get swept up in the occasion.

“I tried to tell my boys that when you enter the pitch in any stadium the strength lies in putting two plugs in your ears and to just focus on your team’s goal,” he said.

“That is what I did this week too, I didn’t give much weight to the match itself.

“I made it clear that we will have a strong team to fight against, however that doesn’t mean just standing behind them, but we must also be trying to fight back.”

Inter coach Inzaghi did not hold a media conference ahead of Sunday’s Serie A fixture.

Inzaghi is expected to recall Nicolo Barella after the midfielder did not feature in the Champions League.

Nerazzurri captain Lautaro Martinez started on the bench in Salzburg before coming on during the second half and scoring the late penalty which secured a 1-0 win.

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