Napoli extended their Serie A winless streak to seven rounds, as Piotr Zielinski scraped a 1-1 draw at relegation battlers Udinese.
The Partenopei were in crisis mode amid reports Carlo Ancelotti could be fired, as they were without a win in eight competitive games. Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens played through pain to start, while Jose Callejon returned after he was dropped for two matches, but Arkadiusz Milik, Allan, Faouzi Ghoulam, Kevin Malcuit and Lorenzo Tonelli didn’t make the trip. Udinese missed Mato Jajalo and Ken Sema, but Kevin Lasagna returned.
Napoli had won their last six Serie A meetings with Udinese, home and away.
Dries Mertens and Hirving Lozano put dangerous crosses into the box, only to find no team-mates in support. The first real chance came to Udinese on 26 minutes, Rodrigo De Paul turning Lorenzo Insigne well to set up Seko Fofana, who blasted not far over from the edge of the box.
Koulibaly then made a crucial sliding tackle to stop Lasagna scoring, as he went clear on a De Paul through ball.
Udinese took the lead with a classic counter-attack, as Koulibaly went up for the Napoli corner and was therefore out of position when a smart Fofana through ball sent Lasagna clear and the forward drew out Alex Meret to prod into an empty net.
Napoli continued to only put crosses in for short strikers who were easily cut out by much taller Udinese defenders. Mario Rui did cause some consternation with his cross into the six-yard box, but Piotr Zielinski’s control and volley went well over.
They needed height in the box and introduced Fernando Llorente for Insigne in the second half, moving Lozano to the left wing. He made an immediate impact, his chest-and-volley charged down in the penalty area on a corner.
Juan Musso was alert to smother a long-range Fabian Ruiz curler and Llorente nodded a Callejon free kick over, while Lasagna’s penalty appeals were rightly rejected, as he backed into Mario Rui.
Napoli finally got back on level terms when Mertens and Zielinski combined to harass Rolando Mandragora into losing possession on the edge of the box and the Pole’s slightly scuffed left-foot finish wrong-footed Musso to roll into the far bottom corner.
The momentum of the game changed and Napoli were swarming, a Mertens volley into the ground bouncing wide, then Musso smothering a Llorente header.
The tension got to Nikola Maksimovic, who was debating with the linesman near the corner flag while warming up and sent off for dissent.
Amin Younes saw his deflected attempt loop just over the bar, but the pressure didn’t pay off and Napoli only came away with a point.
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