Tue, Dec 20, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Juventus break free as Udinese are held

TIGHT AT THE TOP:Pepe and Quagliarella scored to down struggling Novara Calcio to go two points clear of AC Milan and Udinese, who they face tomorrow

AP, MILAN, ITALY

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, center, battles for the ball with Novara Calcio defender Carlalberto Ludi, right, and midfielder Ivan Radovanovic in their Serie A match at Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Unbeaten Juventus broke clear at the top of Serie A with a 2-0 victory over struggling Novara Calcio on Sunday, as Udinese were held to a 2-2 draw at SS Lazio.

Simone Pepe gave Juventus the perfect start when he scored in the fourth minute, but the result flattered Juventus, with veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon pulling off a string of impressive saves.

Fabio Quagliarella secured the win 15 minutes from time.

Juventus are two points clear of AC Milan and Udinese, who they face tomorrow.

Inter’s revival gathered pace as Andrea Ranocchia helped them to a 1-0 victory at struggling Cesena.

After AC Milan had gone top with a victory on Saturday the pressure was on Juventus and they did not disappoint. Antonio Conte’s team got off to the perfect start when Paolo De Ceglie crossed for Pepe to tap home from close range.

Juventus sealed the points when Quagliarella headed in Andrea Pirlo’s corner for his first goal in more than a year.

“We were very good in creating opportunities, but less so in finishing them off,” Conte said. “They’re risking giving us heart attacks on the bench.”

In Rome, Udinese took the lead in the 27th minute when Giampiero Pinzi released Giovanni Pasquale down the left flank and he crossed for Antonio Floro Flores to score with a diving header.

Lazio went in front with goals from Senad Lulic and Miroslav Klose either side of the interval, before Pinzi leveled in the 73rd minute.

“They equalized during our best period and then went in front, but fortunately we managed to react,” Pinzi said. “Now we’re just thinking of Juve because that’s a fascinating top-of-the-table clash.”

In a game of few chances at Cesena, Inter made it three wins in a row thanks to Ranocchia’s second-half goal as he headed home Maicon’s free-kick.

“I’ve never seen my team miss so many passes like today,” Inter coach Claudio Ranieri said. “This is a game from which we have to just take the points.”

Napoli slipped further down the table with a 3-1 loss to AS Roma. Walter Mazzarri’s side have now only won once in seven Serie A games.

They got off to a terrible start when goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis turned Erik Lamela’s cross into his own net in the third minute.

Napoli should have been level before halftime as Marek Hamsik missed an open goal from close range, blazing over the bar when he seemed certain to score. Ezequiel Lavezzi also hit the post.

Roma extended their lead on the hour-mark, Pablo Osvaldo slotting home Francesco Totti’s cross from close range.

Hamsik got Napoli back into the game when he fired home from a tight angle eight minutes from time, but it was too little, too late. Fabio Simplicio sealed the victory in stoppage-time.

“Well done to [Roma coach] Luis Enrique for saying they were lucky, because in Italy, when we win, we don’t normally say the other team deserved to instead,” Mazzarri said. “Napoli were unlucky with everything. I couldn’t ask more from the team. We’ll have to accept this bitter defeat and move on.”

Lecce could have given their survival hopes a big boost as they looked to be on course for a 3-1 victory at Parma, before letting their lead slip.

Sergio Floccari gave Parma the lead from the penalty spot, but two rapid David Di Michele goals and a Juan Cuadrado strike eight minutes from time seemed to have won the match for Lecce.

However, Graziano Pelle got Parma back in the game four minutes later and Daniele Galloppa grabbed the equalizer in stoppage-time.

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