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Update: Napoli move seven clear to ruin Sampdoria’s Vialli and Mihajlovic send-off

Sampdoria fans unfurl a giant tifo flocked with the number 9 to pay tribute to late Italian footballer Gianluca Vialli. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Napoli moved seven points clear at the top of Serie A after they won 2-0 at grieving Sampdoria on Sunday and AC Milan threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Roma.

Victor Osimhen poked Napoli ahead in the 19th minute before Eljif Elmas sealed the points with a perfectly-place penalty with eight minutes remaining at a soaking Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa.

The win means Napoli lead both second-placed Juventus, winners over Udinese on Saturday who travel to Naples on Friday, and Milan by the same margin after seeing their advantage cut to five on Wednesday.

“Big game, big team, we have a great squad and the most important thing is to win,” said Osimhen. 

“Now we go back, relax and then start training to prepare for the game with Juventus.”

After netting his 10th league goal of the season Nigeria forward Osimhen was also the victim of a brutal foul from Tomas Rincon, who was sent off in the 38th minute for chopping the 24-year-old down as he charged towards goal.

Vialli, Mihajlovic tributes

Luciano Spalletti’s side bounced back from their defeat at Inter Milan on Wednesday and dampened an emotional evening for Sampdoria whose fans said goodbye to two of their most popular former players.

Vialli’s death to pancreatic cancer on Friday at the age of 58 was particularly painful for supporters as the former Italy forward is one of Sampdoria’s all-time greats and a key figure in their only league title triumph in 1991.

Mihajlovic, who played for Sampdoria in the mid-1990s and later managed the club, succumbed to leukemia last month and Sunday’s match was their first home fixture since he passed away.

The Samp players warmed up for the match in shirts bearing Vialli’s number nine, while fans in the stands chanted both players’ names as a wreath was laid in their honour by visibly moved coach Dejan Stankovic.

A giant banner hung in the stands for Vialli read “Striker. Champion. Legend.” Another said “Thanks to you we know that nothing is impossible”.

However Serie A survival is beginning to look increasingly difficult as Sampdoria are 18th, six points behind Spezia who sit just outside the relegation zone and drew 0-0 with Lecce in similarly wet conditions.

Milan collapse

Milan thought they were still on Napoli’s heels after Pierre Kalulu’s first-half header and a fine finish from Tommaso Pobega at the San Siro gave them a commanding lead with 13 minutes remaining.

But Roger Ibanez’s header from a corner gave Roma the chance to snatch a point from an otherwise dreadful performance, and Tammy Abraham obliged in the second minute of stoppage time by tucking home the leveller after Nemanja Matic’s header was saved.

The closest the away side had previously come to scoring was three minutes before half-time when wing-back Nicola Zalewski cut inside and flashed a good shot just wide of Ciprian Tatarusanu’s post.

Jose Mourinho’s side were almost invisible in the second half and although Milan weren’t at their best they did enough to earn the win.

Abraham’s equaliser seriously damaged their bid to retain the title and Stefano Pioli’s team will now be hoping that Napoli drop points against Juve at the Stadio Maradona on Friday.

Earlier Razvan Marin lashed home the leveller in the fourth minute of stoppage time to earn Empoli a 2-2 draw at Lazio, who are three points from the Champions League positions in fifth after throwing away a two-goal lead late on.

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