Juventus crashed to their first Serie A defeat of the season 2-0 at Genoa on Sunday just days after their Champions League heroics, but are still a comfortable 15 points clear of nearest rivals Napoli whose goalkeeper David Ospina was hospitalised after collapsing unconscious on the pitch in a 4-2 win over Udinese.
Colombian international Ospina had collided with Udinese striker Ignacio Pussetto minutes into the game in Naples, before losing consciousness just before half-time.
The 30-year-old on loan Arsenal goalkeeper later regained consciousness in hospital.
“Fortunately it’s nothing serious, he’s conscious, they did a CAT scan that is negative, he’ll remain under observation tonight,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti.
Juventus’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was rested after his hat-trick had fired Juventus into the European quarter-finals with a comeback victory over Atletico Madrid.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri conceded that the win in Turin had taken its toll even if his side still remain comfortably on track for an eighth consecutive league title.
“It’s not a tragedy, but I’m sorry because we wanted to remain unbeaten,” said Allegri.
“The Champions League match certainly weighed heavy,” he said. “You can’t play all the games at your maximum.
“A defeat could have happened (at any time) and it is better that it happened today, now we will have time to rest, recover our energy and the injured players.”
Juventus had won 24 of their 27 previous matches in Serie A this season with three draws, including a 1-1 stalemate against Genoa in the reverse fixture in Turin.
It was the first league defeat on Allegri’s side since April 2018 against Napoli, and first away since losing at Sampdoria in November 2017.
– ‘Time to unplug’ –
The Italian champions had already been beaten this season by Atalanta in the Coppa Italia and lost in the Champions League to Young Boys in the group stage and Atletico Madrid in the last-16 first leg.
“The defeat could do us good, because maybe we thought we already had the league in our pockets and instead we still have to get five victories,” continued Allegri.
“Much like the Coppa Italia defeat to Atalanta, we picked the right game to lose, because it’s just before the break for international duty, so we have time to unplug and rest.”
In addition to Ronaldo, Allegri rested key players including defender Giorgio Chiellini and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny with former Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin taking his place between the posts.
Former Juventus midfielder Stefano Sturaro, 26, playing his first game after ten months out with a tendon injury, scored just two minutes after coming off the bench. Another substitute Goran Pandev sealed victory with ten minutes to go.
“I’m happy for him (Sturaro), because he suffered a lot and today he changed the game,” said Allegri of the midfielder who was loaned by Juventus to Genoa in January, a deal then made permanent in February.
Genoa move up to 12th after this eighth win of the season.
Napoli, meanwhile, came back after letting a two-goal lead slip just before Ospina’s frightening collapse.
Amin Younes curled in his first Serie A goal after 17 minutes, with Jose Callejon connecting with a Dries Mertens cross for the second on 26 minutes.
But Kevin Lasagna and Seko Fofana got two past Ospina in a six-minute spell after the half-hour mark as the Colombian looked out-of-sorts after his fourth-minute collision.
Alex Meret replaced Ospina with Napoli pulling ahead when Arkadiusz Milik headed in a Callejon corner on 57 minutes, with Mertens sealing the three points on 69 minutes.
Behind the top two, AC Milan, in third, play city rivals Inter Milan, in fourth, at the San Siro later Sunday as both sides try to consolidate their Champions League place.
Roma, are fifth, three points off the Champions League places after a 2-1 defeat to struggling SPAL, with Lazio two points behind in sixth following a 4-1 win over Parma in Rome.
Atalanta are equal on points with Lazio after being held 1-1 by bottom club Chievo.