The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Juventus grab late winner to beat Napoli 1-0 for Serie A lead

Associated Press Sunday, 14 February 2016, 07:02 Last update: about 5 years ago

Substitute Simone Zaza scored two minutes from time and Juventus beat visiting Napoli 1-0 on Saturday to take the Serie A lead from the southern club.

Seeking its fifth consecutive title, Juventus moved one point ahead of Napoli with 13 rounds remaining in the Italian league.

Near the end of a match in Turin that had been characterized by few chances for either side, Zaza's goal came with a long, powerful shot that deflected slightly off defender Raul Albiol.

It was Juventus' 15th straight win, moving the Bianconeri within two victories of matching the Serie A record established by Inter Milan in 2006-07. Juventus can tie the record against Inter in two weeks.

It was the fourth goal this campaign for Zaza, an Italy striker who is in his first season with Juventus.

"I hope it's decisive for the title," Zaza said. "It's up to us now. ... If we continue like this nobody will be able to take the title away from us."

It's been a long road to the top for Juventus, which opened this season by winning only one of its first six matches as it struggled to overcome the losses of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez.

"It's going to be a very tough conclusion to the season. Napoli showed tonight that they have great individual players and a very strong squad," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "It was a very tactical match tonight and we spent a lot of energy."

Napoli's winning streak was stopped at eight.

Earlier, Daniel Ciofani scored twice as promoted Frosinone beat Empoli 2-1 for its first away win in the top division. Also, Chievo Verona and Sassuolo drew 1-1.

In a well-balanced contest, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala wasted a clear chance shortly after the hour mark, shooting high after being set up by Paul Pogba inside the area.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik also missed the target with a long attempt in the 80th.

The squads were evenly matched from the start.

Pogba produced a couple long shots while Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci did well to intervene on a long cross toward Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain.

Bonucci reached up with the tip of his right boot to deflect the ball, leaving Higuain with his head in his hands to rue the missed chance.

Higuain had scored 24 goals in as many matches entering the game at the Juventus Stadium but wasn't given much room to operate.

Bonucci had earlier collided knees with teammate Sami Khedira and eventually limped off early in the second half.

Napoli produced only two shots before the break — its lowest output this season.

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