Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Juventus fail to regain top spot after draw at Udinese

LONELY AT THE TOP:The ‘Vecchia Signora’ are level with champions AC Milan on 34 points, but with a worse goal difference. Udinese are third on 32 points

AFP, ROME

Juventus’ Giorgio Chiellini, back, is challenged by Udinese’s Antonio Floro Flores in their Serie A soccer match at the Stadio Friuli in Udine, Italy, on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters

Juventus failed to return to top spot in Serie A on Wednesday after they were held to a 0-0 draw away at third-placed Udinese.

The Old Lady of Turin trail AC Milan — 2-0 winners over Cagliari on Tuesday — on goal-difference, while Udinese are two points behind that duo.

SS Lazio failed to join Udinese on 32 points as they were also held 0-0 by mid-table Chievo Verona later on Wednesday, while the fast-improving form of last year’s champions, Inter, saw them win their fourth match in a row in a 3-1 win over Lecce.

Claudio Ranieri’s side are fifth, eight points adrift of the top two.

Napoli, whose form in Serie A has not been to the level of that in the Champions League this season, enjoyed their most impressive result of the campaign, thrashing Genoa 6-1. Uruguayan international striker Edinson Cavani scored two of them to take his tally for the season in Serie A to nine.

Palermo were unable to give new coach Bortolo Mutti a winning start as the 40th coach of the reign of club owner Maurizio Zamparini saw his side let a 2-0 lead slip to a 2-2 draw with strugglers Novara Calcio.

Juventus had the better chances of an entertaining match — Claudio Marchisio scraping the bottom of a post as early as the eighth minute with a rasping shot with the outside of his right foot.

Udinese, though, were fortunate to find Juve’s frontman Alessandro Matri off form, and he was replaced after 70 minutes.

Udinese’s Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic also played his part, blocking Matri’s effort in the 18th minute — beautifully set up by Italy veteran midfielder Andrea Pirlo — and saving a header from Giorgio Chiellini in the 52nd minute.

The hosts preferred to sit back and hit Juventus on the break, Brazilian Danilo Larengeira heading just over the bar in the 57th minute, while Matri’s opposite number “Toto” Di Natale was also having an off night.

However, despite their managing to hold Juventus at bay, their tactics and positioning did not please their coach, Francesco Guidolin, and eventually his antics got him sent from the touchline in time added on.

On Tuesday, an own-goal by Francesco Pisano and one from Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the hour were enough to give champions AC Milan the three points and send them top.

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