MILAN (AP) — Napoli missed a chance to move provisionally level with second-placed Roma as it was held to 1-1 at Cagliari in Serie A on Saturday.
Earlier, Udinese picked up a valuable 2-1 win at fellow struggler Livorno in the final round of Italian league fixtures before the winter break.
Napoli remains third but could find itself 10 points behind leader Juventus if the two-time reigning champion beats Atalanta on Sunday. Roma plays Catania and would move five points ahead of Napoli with a win.
AC Milan plays city rival Inter in a highly anticipated derby.
"We had more chances than they did, but it wasn't enough," Napoli coach Rafa Benitez said. "A draw here is not a bad result, but it is for us because we're chasing the top of the table, even though it was very difficult here.
"Roma and Juve are doing great and that's the difference. They play each other (on Jan. 5) so we can close the gap. But we have to think about ourselves. We're doing better than last year, even after being in the Champions League as well, so what can we do? We need to be perfect."
Napoli was brimming with confidence after beating Inter Milan 4-2, but it was Cagliari which started the brighter and the Sardinian side took the lead in the ninth minute.
Davide Astori dispossessed Italy defender Christian Maggio and cut back for the unmarked Nene to fire home. The Brazilian thought he scored moments earlier but he was booked for firing at goal after the referee stopped play.
Gonzalo Higuain leveled 10 minutes later with a powerful penalty after Goran Pandev was fouled by Astori.
Jose Maria Callejon had a spectacular volley ruled out in the 73rd after the assistant referee spotted that the ball took the slightest of touches off Pandev, who was in an offside position.