Mon, Dec 24, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Mandzukic on target as relentless Juve beat Roma


Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic celebrates scoring the opening goal in their Serie A match against AS Roma at the Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Juventus maintained their record-breaking start to the Serie A season with a 1-0 win over AS Roma that ensured that they would go into the winter break on top of the table.

Mario Mandzukic struck a first-half winner to hand Juve their 16th win in 17 games, restoring their eight-point advantage over second-place Napoli with two rounds to go before the halfway point of the season.

A 1-1 draw with Genoa in October is the only blot on Juventus’s otherwise perfect record, which is the best start that has ever been made to a Serie A season.

A trademark back-post header from Mandzukic opened the scoring on 35 minutes, as he rose above Davide Santon to power the ball into the net.

Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen made a string of saves to keep his side in the game, twice denying Cristiano Ronaldo in quick succession in the second half.

However, the capital club rarely threatened to find an equalizer and substitute Douglas Costa thought he had sealed the points for Juventus with his close-range finish in stoppage time, only for the goal to be disallowed for a foul in the build-up following a pitch-side VAR review.

Juventus sit on top of the table with 49 points from a possible 51, eight points clear of Napoli on 41.

“We haven’t won anything yet,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “We’re doing well and we’re winter champions, but we need to make sure we have a big advantage on Dec. 29.”

SSC Napoli prepared for Wednesday’s clash against Inter with a narrow victory over struggling SPAL.

“We must not think about Juventus, because with all the points they’re racking up, it could demotivate us,” Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We need lots of motivation, because I have an excellent team here that can achieve great things.”

Napoli dominated, but did not find the breakthrough until first-half stoppage time thanks to Raul Albiol’s glancing header from Dries Mertens’ corner.

Chievo’s Sergio Pellissier netted a stoppage-time equalizer to cancel out Ivan Perisic’s first goal for Inter in nearly three months.

Mauro Icardi picked out Danilo D’Ambrosio, who sent in a low cross for Perisic to smash into the roof of the net in the 39th minute.

Inter looked sluggish and they were punished late on as a long ball was knocked on for Pellissier and the 39-year-old striker outsprinted the defenders to chip the onrushing Samir Handanovic.

AC Chievo Verona finished with a sixth consecutive league draw.

SS Lazio ended a seven-match winless run to leapfrog AC Milan into fourth spot and the final Champions League berth.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic ended his three-month drought to set Lazio on their way to a 3-1 win over Cagliari.

Lazio moved a point above Milan, who lost at home to ACF Fiorentina 1-0.

Federico Chiesa scored for Fiorentina and Milan failed to score for a third successive league match.

Fabio Quagliarella scored for a seventh successive Serie A match, becoming the first Italian to do so in more than 10 years, as UC Sampdoria won at Empoli 4-2.

US Sassuolo drew with Torino 1-1, and Atalanta lost at Genoa 3-1, with Josip Ilicic missing a penalty.

Atalanta ended the match with nine men as Jose Luis Palomino and Rafael Toloi were sent off in the final seven minutes.

Udinese remained a point above the relegation zone after drawing with fellow struggler Frosinone 1-1 as 18th-placed Bologna also drew, 0-0 against Parma.

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