Juventus extend lead as Napoli held by Lazio
Juventus moved five points clear at the top of Serie A after comfortably beating Fiorentina 2-0 while nearest rivals Napoli could only manage a 1-1 draw at Lazio in the late kick-off.
Mirko Vucinic opened the scoring for an aggressive Juve side after 20 minutes, capitalising on Facundo Roncaglia’s poor defensive header by smashing the ball home from just outside the area.
Alessandro Matri doubled their lead four minutes before half-time after great work from Arturo Vidal, the midfielder evading four Fiorentina players before slipping in the striker.
Despite losing his right boot, Matri expertly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano to seal an easy win.
Before the match, Juve boss Antonio Conte played down talk of a fierce rivalry between Turin and Florence and there was precious little evidence of competition on the pitch as Vucinic was left unchallenged to slam home the opener.
Andrea Pirlo was back to his imperious best, with a series of deft balls forward to Vidal and Claudio Marchisio inspiring gasps from the bumper crowd.
Juve’s first shot on goal came through Marchisio, who dribbled to the edge of the area before directing an effort just wide, before Emiliano Viviano was called into action.
With Vucinic free to do as he pleased at the end of an attractive passing move, the Montenegrin rifled the ball against Fiorentina’s goalkeeper.
Vucinic’s compatriot Stevan Jovetic soon warmed Gianluigi Buffon’s palms on the turn but it would be Juventus who made the breakthrough.
With 20 minutes played Vucinic unleashed a furious right-footed drive that streaked past a stranded Viviano and into the net.
A chance for a quickfire second went begging when Vucinic failed to tuck the ball away when Gonzalo Rodriguez offered it to him on a plate at the edge of his area
Juve would give themselves a significant advantage going into the break, though, as Matri stole onto a Vidal pass to steer the ball past Viviano.
Replays showed the former Cagliari man’s boot had flown off before he scored with his sock.
Matri shrugged off the lull in action in the second half to burst onto a Stephan Lichtsteiner pass and drag the ball just wide of a post.
Fiorentina substitute Mounir El Hamdaoui got Buffon working again when he twisted and turned to beat Peluso and Giovinco promptly drew a low save from Viviano at the other end.
But after the high-tempo escapades of the first 45 minutes, the second half was a limp affair and not even Paul Pogba could liven things up with one of his trademark long-range screamers.
At the Olympic Stadium, Lazio were more in the picture than Napoli in the opening half and could have gone in for the break enjoying a healthier lead than the one-goal advantage that came about after a Sergio Floccari goal on 11 minutes.
The same Floccari was denied by the upright on the half-hour mark but Napoli were also unlucky when an Edinson Cavani header came off the woodwork eight minutes from half-time.
The second half saw plenty of action at both ends of the pitch.
Late on, substitute Senad Lulic should have done better when face to face with Napoli goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis and three minutes from time Lazio conceded the equaliser, Hugo Campagnaro blasting home from a corner.
Floccari almost won it for Lazio at the death but his header from close in smashed against the bar.