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>>>ANSA/ Soccer: Juve blame fatigue for Napoli defeat

Conte also rues injuries for limiting squad rotation

31 March, 19:05
>>>ANSA/ Soccer: Juve blame fatigue for Napoli defeat (ANSA) - Rome, March 31 - Juventus coach Antonio Conte blamed the fatigue of fighting for trophies on both of the Italian and European fronts after they suffered only their second Serie A defeat of the season at Napoli Sunday.

Appearing tired, the Bianconeri went down 2-0 after a first-half goal by Spanish forward José Callejón and a late strike by Belgian international Dries Mertens for the home side.

The defeat enabled second-placed AS Roma to close the gap to 11 points by beating second-bottom Sassuolo 2-0.

Roma can narrow the lead down to eight points if they beat Parma in a game they have in hand on Wednesday. Even that would still be a huge advantage with just seven league games to go before the end of the season.

But a small alarm bell was rung for the Turin giants, who are aiming to win their third consecutive Serie A crown under former midfielder Conte.

They will need to recoup some energy if they are to stay on course for a trophy double, with the first leg of their Europa League quarterfinal in Lyon on Thursday. "We paid the price for the fact that we can't rotate (the squad) due to injuries," said Conte, who was also without suspended Argentine striker Carlos Tevez in Naples. "(Montenegro forward Mirko) Vucinic has been out for two-and-a-half months, (Sebastian) Giovinco returned for this game and (Fabio) Quagliarella has had some problems. "(Spanish striker Fernando) Llorente is playing every game at the moment and (Pablo) Osvaldo always contributes well when called upon.

"Carlos is a player with plenty of personality and when games heat up he knows how to make his mark. "He wasn't with us today, but will be back for Lyon".

AC Milan kept alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Europa League by beating Chievo Verona 3-0 for their second consecutive victory. They are 11th with 42 points,six behind fifth-placed Inter, who currently hold the last Italian qualification slot for Europe's secondary club competition. Italy forward Mario Balotelli opened the scoring for Milan after four minutes before Kakà celebrated his 300th games with the Rossoneri with a double. Atalanta notched their six consecutive win by triumphing 2-0 at Bologna. There was a last-minute victory for Lazio, with Antonio Candreva firing home in stoppage time to clinch a 3-2 home win over Parma.

Verona beat Genoa 3-0, thanks to Luca Toni's second youth.

The 33-year-old has scored 15 goals this season, including his double against Genoa. Torino beat Cagliari 2-1 with goals by Moroccan player El Kaddouri and Alessio Cerci.