ROME, March 3 (Reuters) - Serie A leaders Juventus held on to win 2-1 at Napoli in a stormy top-of-the-table clash on Sunday which saw both teams have a player sent off and Lorenzo Insigne miss a late penalty for the hosts.
The win took Juventus 16 points clear of second-placed Napoli, effectively wrapping up an eighth successive title for the Turin giants, who are unbeaten and have 72 points out of a possible 78.
Juventus raced into a 2-0 halftime lead after Napoli had goalkeeper Alex Meret sent off but after Juve’s Miralem Pjanic was also dismissed, Jose Callejon pulled one back before Insigne let the Turin side off the hook.
The game hinged on an incident in the 25th minute when Napoli fullback Kevin Malcuit’s back pass was intercepted by Cristiano Ronaldo, forcing Meret to come out of his penalty area and lunge at the Portuguese forward who went to ground.
The referee awarded a straight red card without reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor. Replays, though, suggested that, although Ronaldo had to jump over Meret’s outstretched leg, no contact was made.
Striker Arkadiusz Milik was sacrificed and replaced by substitute goalkeeper David Ospina, whose first job was to pick the ball out of the net as Pjanic scored from the resulting free kick.
Emre Can headed the second in the 39th minute but the game took another twist with Pjanic’s dismissal for a second bookable offence two minutes after halftime.
Callejon turned in Insigne’s cross in the 61st minute to reduce the gap as Napoli turned the screw.
As the pressure grew, the hosts were awarded a penalty in the 82nd minute for handball against Alex Sandro, a decision awarded after a VAR review, but Insigne fired the spot kick against the inside of the post. (Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by Ian Chadband)