Juventus triumphed 1-0 away against Lazio in the top-of-the-table clash at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to go clear at the Serie A summit.
Simone Pepe scored the only goal of an entertaining game that saw Juve lead the table by a point from Udinese, who beat Roma 2-0 on Friday.
Ominously for the rest, Juve could go four points clear if they win away to misfiring Napoli tomorrow.
However, in a clash that would say much about both sides’ title chances, it was the Old Lady of Turin who showed Lazio how to nick a tight contest.
A lively first half could have produced a lot more than the one goal, which separated the sides at the break.
Stephan Lichtsteiner got down the right and crossed into the box, where Claudio Marchisio nipped across the front post, but headed wide.
Only a stunning save by Federico Marchetti from a swerving Andrea Pirlo free-kick, when the goalkeeper initially seemed wrong-footed, kept the scores level, as well as Lichtsteiner’s miss from 4.5m from the rebound.
Lazio first threatened when Tommaso Rocchi was played in on goal, but his chipped finish hit goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and then Andrea Barzagli before slipping agonizingly wide of the post.
Juve were dangerous, though, and a great ball from Pirlo over the top found Pepe, who cut inside his marker but fired high and wide.
Hernanes played in Rocchi behind the backline, but Buffon was out quickly to block his shot.
Juve took the lead on 34 minutes as Matri crossed from the left and Pepe escaped his marker to finish first time.
Pirlo launched another ball over the top, but Marchetti made a mess of it only for the ball to hit an unaware Pepe and go wide.
Lazio were on the offensive after the restart and Hernanes was a lick of paint away from equalizing, his shot from 13.5m coming back off the post, while Buffon saved Senad Lulic’s follow-up.
Buffon then plunged to his left to keep out Miroslav Klose’s deflected effort.
Marchetti saved Lazio again after Emanuele Giacchini turned on the edge of the box and shot goalwards as the chances kept coming at both ends.
In other play, it was:
‧ Napoli 1, Atalanta 1
‧ Catania 1, Lecce 0
‧ Novara 2, Parma 1