Hirving Lozano scored after just nine seconds but Napoli lost 3-1 at Hellas Verona on Sunday,allowing Juventus to climb into the Serie A top four after beating Bologna.
Juventus, chasing a 10th straight Scudetto, won 2-0 earlier Sunday to move seven points behind leaders Milan with a game in hand.
Milan held onto top spot on Saturday despite falling to a 3-0 home defeat by Atalanta, while second-placed Inter settled for a goalless draw at Udinese.
Napoli missed the chance to move ahead of Juventus and sit sixth, two points adrift of the Champions League berths.
Gennaro Gattuso’s side got off to a perfect start in Verona as, almost straight from kick-off, Mexican forward Lozano fired home after Verona defender Federico Dimarco missed Diego Demme’s long ball.
But Dimarco made up for his mistake by volleying in the equaliser on 34 minutes.
Antonin Barak put Verona ahead after the hour mark with a low finish into the far corner from a tight angle, before Mattia Zaccagni headed in the third with 11 minutes to go.
Napoli’s record scorer Dries Mertens and Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, who returned after recovering from a shoulder injury and coronavirus, came off the bench in the second half but failed to inspire a comeback.
Verona are ninth, four points off the European berths.
Juve back on track
Juventus bounced back from last weekend’s 2-0 league defeat by Inter Milan, edging past 13th-placed Bologna in Turin to keep their title defence alive.
Brazilian midfielder Arthur broke through after quarter of an hour with a long-range shot that took a big deflection off Bologna defender Jerdy Schouten.
It was a first goal for the ex-Barcelona player in 19 appearances since joining Juventus last summer from the La Liga side in a transfer worth up to 82 million euros ($99 million).
American midfielder Weston McKennie scored the second on 71 minutes by nodding in a corner, for his fourth goal in 21 games since moving from Bundesliga side Schalke.
“McKennie is always in the right place, he has great vision,” said Pirlo, hailing an “important” win after last weekend’s loss, which was followed by an Italian Super Cup victory over Napoli.
“We are a strong team, it all depends on us. As we demonstrated in the Super Cup we are not the team seen at the San Siro.
“We did well in the first half but if you don’t manage to close it out, the games always remain in the balance.”
Bologna could have conceded more late on but for goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski who denied Adrien Rabiot and Cristiano Ronaldo in the final four minutes.
“Both Milan teams dropped points yesterday (Saturday) so it was important for us to win today and get some ground back, because it’ll be a race right up until the end,” said McKennie.
Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt returned from coronavirus, coming off the bench for the last quarter of an hour as Juventus extended their unbeaten run against Bologna which stretches back to February 2011.