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Akwa United miss chance to close gap at the top

By ESPN Staff

Napoli secure second spot in Serie A

Napoli secured secured second spot in Serie A with a win, while AC Milan recorded a victory as they look to secure Champions League football for next season and there were another three points for newly-crowned champions Juventus.

Three second-half goals ensured Napoli comfortably saw off Bologna 3-0 and claimed a historic runners-up spot in Serie A.

Not since Diego Maradona inspired them to domestic titles in the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons have the Partenopei come close to challenging for the Scudetto, but Wednesday's victory ensured they are guaranteed to finish behind Juventus.

Influential midfielder Marek Hamsik broke the deadlock eight minutes after the interval, star man Edinson Cavani added a penalty just after the hour before Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili ensured there was no way back for Bologna, who dominated the first half.

Mario Balotelli struck twice to bolster Milan's bid for a top-three finish with a thumping 4-0 win at already-relegated Pescara.

Balotelli smoothed the way for a comfortable night when he opened the scoring from the penalty spot after nine minutes.

Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini put Milan out of sight before Balotelli secured his double just before the hour.

Milan's win ensured they would remain in third place on Wednesday night with a full round of fixtures in Serie A.

Juventus may have won the Serie A title at the weekend but there was no sign of a celebratory hangover as they beat Atalanta 1-0 thanks to Alessandro Matri`s early goal.

Antonio Conte's men secured their retention of the Scudetto on Sunday and showed just why they are the champions with a workmanlike victory at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.

Their hosts had reason to rejoice too as, despite defeat, results elsewhere mean they are safe from the drop.

Lazio remained in the hunt for a top-five finish after inflicting a 3-1 defeat on sorry Inter Milan, who can now no longer claim a place in Europe after suffering a fifth defeat in six Serie A matches.

It is the first time in 15 seasons that the Nerazzurri will not be gracing continental competition and will further increase the pressure on young coach Andrea Stramaccioni.

Inter barely helped themselves, gifting Lazio a 21st-minute lead with an own goal and then, after equalising through Ricardo Alvarez, missing a gilt-edged chance to take the lead when Alvarez incredibly fired over an open net just prior to half-time.

It was to get worse before the break though, with Inter conceding a penalty which was slotted home by Hernanes.

Inter then missed a second-half penalty of their own, Alvarez's night steadily going downhill, before Lazio substitute Ogenyi Onazi wrapped up the points for the visitors with a fine third goal.

The result leaves Lazio in sixth position on 58 points, while Inter remain eighth on 53.

Fiorentina kept up the chase of Milan while condemning their local rivals Siena to almost certain relegation to Serie B with a 1-0 victory at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Gonzalo Rodriguez's goal was enough for the Viola to keep alive their faint glimmer of a chance of qualifying for the Champions League as they go into the final two games of the season four points adrift of third-placed Milan.

The win also practically guarantees them a place in the Europa League while Siena now need a miracle to stay up with six points separating them from Genoa with two games of the season remaining.

Mehdi Benatia's late winner moved Palermo closer to relegation following a heart-breaking 3-2 defeat at home to European-chasing Udinese.

The Sicilians twice equalised with Abel Hernandez's 81st-minute strike seemingly grabbing at least a precious point.

But Benatia stole that away two minutes later, after Stefano Sorrentino saved from Luis Muriel, to leave Palermo four points from safety with two games left.

Udinese's sixth successive win moved them into the European places with Muriel (10) and Gabriele Angella (64) scoring the goals.

In between time Antonio Di Natale saw a penalty save but it mattered not thanks to Benatia.

Torino and Genoa must still wait to find out whether they will be plying their trade in Serie A next season after playing out a 0-0 draw at the Stadio Olimpico.

Although the result will satisfy both sides, whose fans are linked by a long-standing friendship, the only favour it really does is to struggling Palermo, who are still within reach of both teams with two games to go.

There were hardly any chances of note in a game which was played at a pedestrian pace, the result of which sees Genoa leading Palermo by four points with Torino a point better off.

Alejandro Rosi struck 10 minutes from time to secure Parma a barely-deserved 1-0 win at Cagliari.

It was the perfect response to coach Roberto Donadoni's plea yesterday for his team not to let their season peter out after assuring themselves of top-flight football next season.

However, it was Cagliari who had by far the better of the game with the visitors grateful to goalkeeper Antonio Mirante.

More to follow...

Information from the Press Association was used in this report


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