Hope for Napoli as Juve is held 0-0 by Spal

Udinese's Mohamed Seko Fofana, center, celebrates with his teammates after he scored during a Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Sassuolo, at the Friuli stadium of Udine, northern Italy, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (Stefano Lancia/ANSA via AP)

By ANDREW DAMPF

AP Sports Writer

ROME (AP) Just when it seemed Juventus was going to run away with the Serie A title, the Bianconeri were held to a surprise 0-0 draw at Spal on Saturday.

The result ended Juventus' run of 12 straight wins in the league as it chases an unprecedented seventh consecutive crown.

"When you don't have enough mental energy, the opposition will win every 50-50 ball," Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "That's what happened tonight."

Juve is five points ahead of second-place Napoli, which hosts Genoa on Sunday. Spal stretched its unbeaten streak to four games to move one point above the relegation zone.

"The guys put on a great performance," Spal coach Leonardo Semplici said. "We limited Juventus and also tried to take the game to them, pass the ball around and keep hold of it.

"Spal showed that not only do we belong in Serie A, but we have what it takes to achieve our objective."

The last time Juve failed to score in an away match came in September, a 3-0 loss against Barcelona in the Champions League.

"It's not easy to stop Juve. We played a great match and we deserved this point," Spal striker Mirco Antenucci said.

On Friday, Juve was drawn against Real Madrid in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, a rematch of last season's final.

"We have to learn from this for the games coming up against Crotone and Benevento, because they are fighting for Serie A survival and we therefore need to face them with a different attitude," Allegri said.

"Spal fought hard, compliments to them. The positive thing tonight is that we kept a clean sheet and at the moment we still have a five-point advantage."

Juve created several chances but failed to find the target at Stadio Paolo Mazza.

An early effort from Alex Sandro inside the area was blocked by Filippo Costa's last-gasp deflection.

After the break a long pass from Mattia De Sciglio set up Gonzalo Higuain inside the area but he, too, was thwarted by Spal's defense, with Thiago Cionek intervening.

Minutes later Giorgio Chiellini dribbled from one end of the pitch to the other before crossing to Paulo Dybala, whose shot went narrowly wide.

Allegri brought on Mario Mandzukic as an extra forward and the Croatia international almost struck with a header in the 81st minute.

A visibly frustrated Allegri left the touchline for the changing room before the final whistle.

Sassuolo took a big step away from the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Udinese, its first victory since December.

Stefano Sensi featured in both Sassuolo strikes, first with a corner that went in for an own goal off Udinese midfielder Kadhim Ali Adnan.

Seko Fofana equalized with a fine long-range shot before Sensi restored the advantage midway through the second half.

Five of Fofana's seven Serie A goals have come from outside the area.

Sassuolo is 14th, three points above the drop zone. Udinese remained 11th.

More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf

Updated March 17, 2018

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