Arkadiusz Milik's late equaliser earned Napoli a 2-2 draw against Sassuolo in a dramatic match at the Mapei Stadium on Sunday that likely ends the slim Serie A title hopes of Maurizio Sarri's side.
Napoli should have broken the deadlock after a tight opening half-hour, but Dries Mertens' low cross was overhit and Jose Callejon could only turn the ball into the side netting at the back post, before captain Marek Hamsik went close after a brilliant solo run on the stroke of half-time as the visitors continued to be frustrated by the Sassuolo defence.
The breakthrough finally came after 52 minutes, Mertens heading home his 22nd league goal of the season from Callejon's cross after a throughball split the Sassuolo back line.
But the lead was short-lived, as Hamsik's poor defensive header presented striker Domenico Berardi with a simple close-range finish after goalkeeper Pepe Reina was left exposed.
10 - José Callejón is the 1st player to reach double figures for both goals ans assists in Serie A 2016-17. Dual-purpose. #SassuoloNapoli-- OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 23, 2017
A brilliant Mertens free-kick cracked the crossbar after 64 minutes and a Lorenzo Insigne effort came back off the inside of the post as Napoli sought a response, but the next goal went to Sassuolo against the run of play.
With 10 minutes to go substitute Luca Mazzitelli squeezed a low shot through Reina's defences to seemingly steal the points, before Milik bundled home a right-wing corner to complete the scoring.
Sarri's side could have had an injury-time penalty when the hosts' skipper, former Napoli man Paolo Cannavaro, appeared to handle the ball in the box, but referee Antonio Damato turned down the appeals in a gripping finale, leaving the San Paolo club nine points off leaders Juventus with five games to play.