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Football

Juventus keep pressure on Serie A chasers

Alessandro Matri scores in his socks for Juventus as they defeat Fiorentina 2-0 and open up space at top of table.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2013 20:15
Matri scores Juventus' second goal in his sock after losing a boot against Fiorentina [Reuters]

A 25-metre drive from Mirko Vucinic and a goal in his socks from Alessandro Matri helped Juventus to a 2-0 home win over Fiorentina and a six-point lead over Serie A title rivals Napoli.

Napoli, in second place, have the chance to move back within three points of the defending champions, when they meet Lazio at the Olympic Stadium in Saturday's late game.

Juve, meanwhile, made light of key suspensions to claim a comprehensive 17th win of the campaign, three days before their Champions League last-16, first-leg against Scottish leaders Celtic on Tuesday in Glasgow.

Missing coach Antonio Conte and defender Leonardo Bonucci, both of whom were handed two-match bans for verbal abuse of a match referee when Genoa held the champions to a 1-1 draw, Juve were also expected to be without Andrea Pirlo.

Conte said in midweek the influential midfielder had picked up a leg injury, but the Italian international started and played a direct role in Juve's 20th minute opener.

Pirlo's probing cross towards the Fiorentina area was headed down by a defender directly into the path of Vucinic, who took one touch before smashing a half-volley past Emiliano Viviano in the visitors' net.

Juve's movement and passing was frustrating Fiorentina and the hosts doubled their advantage minutes before half-time when Arturo Vidal was allowed time to control on the edge of the area.

The Chilean's delivery was perfect, and Matri did well to ignore losing his right boot on the drawback for the shot and smashed the ball past Viviano with his socked foot.

Assistant coach Angelo Alessio was forced to replace Vucinic with Sebastian Giovinco on the hour after the Montenegro star came off clutching his right knee.

Meanwhile, Matri, making a rare start for the Turin giants, was finding space regularly among the Fiorentina defence and was unlucky not to grab his second on 67 minutes when he sent Stephan Lichsteiner's delivery just past the far post from a tight angle.

Fiorentina had created few chances but their despair was further underlined when coach Vincenzo Montella replaced another Montenegro player Stevan Jovetic with Serbia's Adem Ljajic.

With 15 minutes remaining, Alessio replaced Matri with Paul Pogba, a move which almost paid off in the final five minutes when the tall French midfielder saw his shot from a poor clearance bounce clear after a scramble in the box.

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Source:
AFP
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