Serie A action returned this Thursday on Paramount+ with a depleted slate of games due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation and Italy's ridiculous rules which require teams to enact postponements by being ready to play without their opponents.

Champions and leaders Inter Milan, Atalanta BC and Fiorentina all fell victim to this as 2022 got underway but there was still a feast of action with AC Milan notching an important win and Juventus, SSC Napoli and SS Lazio all involved in entertaining draws.

We recap.

Thursday's Serie A scores

Sampdoria 1, Cagliari 2
Spezia 1, Verona 2
Lazio 3, Empoli 3
Sassuolo 1, Genoa 1
AC Milan 3, Roma 1
Juventus 1, Napoli 1

Abandoned matches due to COVID

Bologna vs. Inter Milan
Atalanta vs. Torino
Salernitana vs. Venezia
Fiorentina vs. Udinese

Milan stay in touch

A 3-1 win over AS Roma keeps Stefano Pioli's men within a provision point of Inter at the summit even though the titleholders are one theoretical game in hand. Olivier Giroud, Junior Messias and Rafa Leao all scored for the Rossoneri as Tammy Abraham grabbed a consolation strike, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic's late penalty miss and two Giallorossi red cards in the final quarter of an hour provided a San Siro spectacle. Jose Mourinho's men are now outside the European places with both Atalanta and Fiorentina having played a game less.  

Napoli nullified

Luciano Spalletti's men were held to a draw by Juve which is usually a respectable result but puts the Partenopei further off the title pace. Dries Mertens gave COVID-depleted Napoli the lead in Turin in the first half, but Federico Chiesa equalized early in the second to give Inter a provisional six-point lead which could be stretched to nine with the Nerazzurri's game in hand. As for Massimiliano Allegri's Juve, they are within three points of the UEFA Champions League places although Atalanta have a game in hand.  

Lively Lazio

Arguably the best entertainment was Lazio's early game with Empoli which saw them fall two goals behind within eight minutes to Nedim Bajrami and Szymon Zurkowiski strikes only for star pair Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic Savic to pull Maurizio Sarri's men level. If that was not enough, Empoli went ahead again through Federico Di Francesco before Patric had a goal disallowed via VAR and Immobile missed a penalty only for Milinkovic Savic to save a point at the death in Rome. The Biancocelesti remain just about within touch of Europe but could easily slip back to midtable if their inconsistency persists.