Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench to salvage a 2-2 draw for 10-man Juventus at Atalanta Wednesday as Duvan Zapata netted a brace against the Serie A leaders.
The Turin champions inched on 50 points from 18 games, giving second-place Napoli a chance to move within six points when they visit Inter Milan to wrap up matchday 18.
Juve had a lucky start in Bergamo, going ahead from Berat Djimsiti’s own goal after another Atalanta player had chipped a cross from Alex Sandro on two minutes.
Rodrigo Bentancur hit the bar to miss Juve’s second and Zapata levelled on 24 minutes, leaving Leonardo Bonucci standing to fire into the right corner and end the Bianconeri’s run of six clean sheets.
A second booking led to Bentancur’s dismissal before Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny blocked Timothy Castagne, but the Pole was beaten when Zapata headed in the following corner kick on 56 minutes.
Ronaldo came on 65 minutes and nodded in the equalizer on 78 off another header from Mario Mandzukic.
Lazio won 2-0 at Bologna to stay fourth and fill the last available Champions League place.
Luiz Felipe and Senad Lulic sealed Lazio’s victory in a match that saw coach Simone Inzaghi prevail on his brother Filippo.
Sampdoria are fifth, two points adrift, after beating tailenders Chievo 2-0 thanks to the eight straight goal of veteran Fabio Quagliarella, who is now on 11 goals, one less than Ronaldo, as Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek leads on 13.
Beleaguered Milan drew 0-0 at struggling Frosinone in a fourth goalless showing to slip to sixth.
The Devils, who came off two draws and one defeat, had their best chance when Samuel Castillejo hit the post in the first half and saw their striker Gonzalo Higuain stay goalless for an eighth straight league game.
Newcomers Frosinone are second-last in the three-team drop zone, lying four points off safety.
Genoa lost 1-0 at Cagliari, while in-form newcomers Parma won 1-0 at Fiorentina.
Four games complete the unusual Boxing Day programme
Photo: PA-EFE/PAOLO MAGNI