Napoli hosted Chievo at the San Paolo 12 points behind Juventus but looking to close the gap before the leaders' trip to Lazio later on Saturday.

But after a surprise 2-2 draw away to Bologna last week, Napoli's title hopes faded further as they left it late to pull level following Gennaro Sardo's 18th-minute opener.

Napoli remain third but will fall 14 points behind Juventus if the Bianconeri win at the Olympic Stadium.

Roma, in second eight points behind Juve, are away to Verona on Sunday while Napoli's fifth draw of the campaign has given a boost to Fiorentina, who are four points adrift of them before Sunday's game against Genoa.

Napoli were stunned inside 20 minutes when Sardo finished off a one-two with Cyril Theareau to smash a stunning drive past Rafael Cabral and into the top corner.

The hosts tried to hit back but Gonzalo Higuain somehow missed the target from barely a yard out after Jose Callejon's angled shot, which had beaten Christian Puggioni, found him unmarked at the back post.

Dries Mertens's effort from a tight angle then found the outside of the post, while after the restart Marek Hamsik, making his first start since November, saw his deflected shot loop over the bar.

Napoli upped the momentum but, after Higuain's shot had been palmed away by Puggioni, Albiol fired over the bar.

New Napoli signing Jorginho made his debut after replacing Blerim Dzemaili just before the hour but his introduction did nothing to change the hosts' fortunes.

The post saved Chievo for a second time when Mertens's free kick hit the upright and late substitute Lorenzo Insigne's rising drive skimmed off the crossbar from the right of goal.

However, with just two minutes remaining Albiol saved Napoli's blushes when he pounced from a corner to squeeze a deflected shot past Puggioni at his near post.