Catania dent Juventus title hopes

ROME: Juventus suffered a serious Serie A title setback on Sunday when rock-bottom visitors Catania clinched a 2-1 win, handing the Turin giants a third straight defeat.

Substitute Mariano Izco escaped three minutes from time to hammer

the final nail in Juve's coffin on a dreadful day for Ciro Ferrara's team in which their fans once again chanted racist slogans.

That loss was compounded later in the day when league leaders Inter Milan beat Lazio 1-0 at the San Siro to open up a nine-point gap over Juve heading into the winter break. AC Milan remained second, eight points behind Inter, despite their game at Fiorentina on Saturday being called off due to the weather.

Ferrara's side came into Sunday's match with four defeats from their last five games in all competitions, and with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defensive rock Giorgio Chiellini both out injured.

After surviving an early penalty scare as Japanese forward Takayuki Morimoto went down under a challenge from Nicola Legrottaglie, Tiago then gave one away as he tugged Nicolas Spolli's shirt in the box. Jorge Martinez made the hosts pay as he stroked home the penalty.

Even that failed to spark much life into Juve and on 32 minutes, Ferrara had seen enough and hauled off 20-million-euro Brazilian flop Felipe Melo, throwing on Bosnian veteran Hasan Salihamidzic in his place, with Melo roundly jeered as he trooped off.

Juve were lively at the start of the second period with Diego, another expensive signing who has failed to live up to his billing, shooting over before Amauri shot straight at goalkeeper Mariano Andujar and Salihamidzic sent an effort inches wide of the far post.

However, the Bosnian drew Juve level on 66 minutes when a delightful ball over the top from Diego found him free behind a static defence and he turned smartly to shoot under Andujar. Andujar spread himself to deny David Trezeguet with a quarter of an hour left and as Juve pilled on the pressure, Catania hit them with a rapier counter-attack, with Gianvito Plasmati releasing Izco to beat Alex Manniger.

Worse may be yet to come for Juve as some

Ultras chanted "there are no black Italians" during the first half -- the same chant that saw Juve forced to play a game behind closed doors last season.

Struggling Lazio put up little fight against Inter and the only surprise was that the champions did not manage to score more goals. Samuel Eto'o scored the only one in 14th minute at the second attempt after Dejan Stankovic found him with a cross, also at the second attempt. Fernando Muslera saved Eto'o's header but the ball fell kindly to the Cameroon striker to lash home past the grounded goalkeeper.

In other games, Napoli beat Chievo 2-0 at home to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games since coach Walter Mazzarri replaced former Italy boss Roberto Donadoni in early October. Roma leapfrogged Parma to go fourth after beating the promoted side 2-0 in the capital.

There were protests at lowly Livorno against the club's owners and the game was held up for two minutes due to smoke bombs before the hosts beat free-falling Sampdoria 3-1.