Napoli take first winter title since Maradona's days
Napoli are halfway to their first Serie A title since Diego Maradona led the club to the 1990 championship.
Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as Napoli routed promoted Frosinone 5-1 yesterday to earn the southern team the Italian league's symbolic "winter title".
Through 19 rounds of the 38-match season, Napoli hold a two-point lead over Inter Milan, who were beaten 1-0 by Sassuolo earlier with a last-minute penalty to surrender the lead.
The winter champions have gone on to win Serie A nearly seven out of every 10 seasons.
"We're still not sure what we're capable of," Napoli's first-year manager Maurizio Sarri said.
The last time Napoli earned the mid-term honor came in 1990.
"Being winter champion means nothing. It means something when you're champion in May," Higuain said. "We've got to stay calm now because there are still five months to go and we want to continue this way."
Fiorentina are third, three points behind, after losing 3-1 to Lazio on Saturday.
Also yesterday, it was: Atalanta 0, Genoa 2; Bologna 0, Chievo Verona 1; Torino 0, Empoli 1; and Hellas Verona 0, Palermo 1.
In an entertaining match at the San Siro, both Inter and Sassuolo produced numerous chances and goalkeepers Samir Handanovic and Andrea Consigli were superb.
Inter threatened early with Mauro Icardi and Adem Ljajic, then Simone Missiroli and Nicola Sansone were dangerous for Sassuolo.
Handanovic tipped a free-kick from Sansone over the bar and Consigli made an extraordinary diving save to swat away a shot from Ljajic before the break.
Inter substitute Rodrigo Palacio had a clear look in the 79th, but his effort was cleared off the line by defender Federico Peluso.
Miranda's decisive foul came after an error by fellow center back Jeison Murillo. Berardi then calmly beat Handanovic, improving to a perfect 6-for-6 on penalties this season.
Having been beaten by Lazio before the holiday break, Inter has now lost two consecutive home matches in Serie A for the first time since May 2013.
Sassuolo are sixth, 10 points behind Napoli.