Kostic fires Juve past Inter Milan
While Napoli extend their lead to 19 points in Serie A and Lazio sits in the second spot
MILAN: Filip Kostic continued Juventus' push towards Serie A's European places with the only goal in Sunday's 1-0 win at Inter Milan, a result which also meant Napoli had extended their lead to 19 points with a 4-0 thrashing of Torino.
Serbia winger Kostic rifled home the winner 22 minutes into an underwhelming encounter at the San Siro, his third league goal of the season enraging Inter who couldn't believe it wasn't ruled out for an Adrien Rabiot handball.
VAR officials took several minutes to confirm Kostic's strike, allowing seventh-placed Juve to move up to 41 points, seven from the Champions League positions.
Massimiliano Allegri's side are hoping their 15-point penalty for illicit transfer activity is overturned as that would put them second, a position now occupied by Lazio who won a tense Rome derby 1-0.
Inter have been wildly inconsistent all season and their ninth loss of the campaign came against a Juve team missing a host of injured or unfit players.
Napoli now only need 15 more points to guarantee the league title, even if Lazio win all their remaining 11 matches. Without the deduction, Juve would still trail Napoli by 15 points.
The only negative for Juve was that Federico Chiesa limped off with seven minutes remaining after coming on as a substitute midway through the second half.
Victor Osimhen took his league-leading goal tally to 21 with two towering headers with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scoring a 35th-minute penalty in a simple win for champions-elect Napoli at Torino.
Kvaratskhelia also laid on Tanguy Ndombele's first Serie A goal in the 68th minute following great hold-up play from Osimhen as Napoli took another step towards a first league title since 1990 in front of an army of fans in Turin.
"No one deserves this more than the Napoli fans… I'm really happy to put a smile on their faces," Osimhen told DAZN.
It seems only a matter of time before Napoli seal a historic Scudetto, one which will follow a campaign of breathtaking football that has Osimhen convinced they can also win the Champions League.
Once Kvaratskhelia rolled in his 14th goal of the season, Torino offered no resistance. They dropped down to 11th, level on 37 points with Bologna and ninth-placed Fiorentina, who won their seventh straight match in all competitions 1-0 over Lecce.
Lazio are Napoli's closest challengers thanks to Mattia Zaccagni's 65th-minute winner which ensured his team did the double over 10-man Roma.
A typically fiery derby clash was prefaced by tensions between supporters and police and a Lazio fan display quoting William Shakespeare's play Henry V.
But the on-pitch spectacle left a lot to be desired, especially after Roger Ibanez saw a red card in the 32nd minute for two daft tackles.
That was the first of what would end up being five red cards, each team having a staff member sent off near half-time before Roma's Bryan Cristante and Lazio's Adam Marusic were also dismissed following a post-match scuffle.
Roma were denied a leveller seconds after Zaccagni put Lazio ahead, Nicolo Casale's own goal ruled out after Chris Smalling had strayed offside to the dismay of their fans and the delight of Lazio's.
"It's a great win which allows us to look at the coming matches with more enthusiasm. It's as good as it gets," said Zaccagni after climbing into the stands to celebrate with supporters.
Fifth-placed Roma missed the chance to move into the top four positions. They stay a point behind AC Milan who lost 3-1 at Udinese on Saturday night.