SERIE A: Juve triumph, go five points clear

Reuters, ROME

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 - Page 8

Leaders Juventus moved five points clear in Serie A on Saturday as the champions beat ACF Fiorentina 2-0, while closest challengers SSC Napoli scored a late goal to snatch a 1-1 draw at SS Lazio.

First-half goals from Mirko Vucinic and Alessandro Matri in Turin took Juventus to 55 points, with Napoli six points ahead of third-placed Lazio after Hugo Campagnaro struck an 87th-minute equalizer to earn a point at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Vucinic opened the scoring for a combative Juve side after 20 minutes, capitalizing on Facundo Roncaglia’s poor defensive header by smashing the ball home from just outside the area.

Matri doubled their lead four minutes before halftime after great work from Arturo Vidal, the midfielder evading four Fiorentina players before slipping a pass to the striker.

Despite losing his right boot, Matri expertly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano to seal a comfortable win that leaves Fiorentina in sixth place.

“It wasn’t an easy match, Fiorentina play great football, but we deserved the win. We were brilliant, extremely aggressive,” Juventus director and former player Pavel Nedved said.

Nedved was filling in for coach Antonio Conte, who is serving a two-match touchline ban for insulting match officials.

Sergio Floccari scored Lazio’s opener 11 minutes into a thrilling match with Napoli when he controlled Abdoulay Konko’s and hit a fierce drive past Morgan de Sanctis.

Despite Napoli’s poor showing, Edinson Cavani almost grabbed an equalizer in the 38th minute when he met Juan Zuniga’s cross with a thumping header that evaded Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, but hit the crossbar.

Napoli were a much improved side in the second half and got the goal and the point they deserved three minutes from time when defender Campagnaro met a corner with a thumping volley that flew into the top right-hand corner.

Both sides had chances to win in a frantic final few minutes as Napoli’s Goran Pandev saw Marchetti save his low drive in the 90th minute, while in the second minute of stoppage-time Floccari again found himself in space, only to crash his header against the bar.