Juventus sight scudetto record as Roma rout Lazio
After edging past Empoli Allegri's troops were done a massive favour by Udinese who saw off Napoli in convincing style.
A record-equalling fifth consecutive crown moved a step closer for Serie A champions Juventus on Sunday as Roma maintained their Champions League push with a 4-1 humiliation of derby rivals Lazio.
Juventus looked to be down and out of the title race only months after securing their first league and Cup double last year in Massimiliano Allegri's first season in charge.
But from a dismal start to the campaign that left the Turin giants only a handful of points above the relegation zone, Juve have pulled six points clear of rivals Napoli following their shock 3-1 defeat at Udinese.
Juve, who last won a fifth straight crown in 1935, managed only a 1-0 win from a dominant performance at home to Empoli on Saturday but it was enough for Allegri to proclaim 'I hope Napoli drop points' at Udinese.
The 48-year-old's wish came true.
Although Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain hit his 30th league goal of the campaign, Napoli imploded in a bad-tempered display at the Stadio Friuli that saw coach Maurizio Sarri sent off for dissent and Higuain see red after an angry altercation in the closing quarter hour.
Napoli's dream of securing a first scudetto since Diego Maradona played his penultimate season with the club in 1990 looks to be slipping away, especially as Juve have an arguably easier run-in.
But Sarri says it's not over yet: 'The defeat will make us angry for a day or so, but it will also give us enough fuel for the next seven games.
'No one can point the finger at us because we're six points behind Juventus. We're having a great campaign and I have a squad of 25 players who will pick themselves back up and show great determination to finish the season on a high.'
Although still in the title race, Napoli will now feel the heat from third-placed Roma, who humiliated Lazio 4-1 in what may have been Francesco Totti's final derby appearance.
Although Totti is hoping for a 24th and final year's contract, club president James Pallotta is hoping to steer the 39-year-old into a director's role instead.
Having made only six appearances amid an injury-hit season, Totti started on the bench as Roma maintained their push for a third consecutive runners-up spot -- albeit in a virtually empty stadium as fans largely heeded boycott calls in protest at new security measures.
The visitors broke the deadlock on 16 minutes when Stephan El Shaarawy got his head to a cross to claim his maiden goal in the 'Derby della Capitale'.
Lazio's few positive notes came from highly-rated Brazilian forward Felipe Anderson in an otherwise disappointing first half.
Roma resumed in similar fashion and minutes after replacing El Shaarawy on the hour, Edin Dzeko fired home the rebound from Diego Perotti's drive when it came off the post.
German veteran Miroslav Klose, who had replaced Alessandro Matri on 56 minutes, changed Lazio's prospects by rising to head the ball into the path of Marco Parolo for his easy poke into the net on 75 minutes.
But Roma finished in style, Alessandro Florenzi pouncing on Gil Patric's poor headed clearance to fire a first-timer past Marchetti, who was left clutching at thin air minutes later when Perotti curled inside his far post.
Elsewhere, a 2-1 defeat to Atalanta left AC Milan's hopes of Europa League football next season hanging by a thread, while Palermo were dumped back into the relegation zone following a 3-1 reverse away to Chievo.
Fiorentina's Champions League hopes were dented by a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man Sampdoria, while Genoa moved up several places to 10th thanks to a 4-0 win over Frosinone inspired by a Suso hat-trick.
A win for Inter over Bologna later Sunday will see Roberto Mancini's men move past Fiorentina into fourth place to sit five points behind Roma.