Juve joy at Christmas ‘cushion’
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon was delighted with a “fundamental” win for his team after Gonzalo Higuain’s first-half strike secured a 1-0 victory against Roma and sent the champion seven points clear at the summit of Serie A on Saturday.
“It’s a fundamental win for us because the championship still has a long way to go,” Juve goalkeeper Buffon told Mediaset.
“It gives us some more belief and a bit of a cushion that allows us to head into the Christmas period feeling great.”
Roma traveled to Turin determined to reduce its four-point gap to the fivetime consecutive champion in the penultimate league match before the Christmas break.
But the visitor paid the price when Daniele De Rossi failed to deal with Higuain on the quarter-hour, and the Argentine muscled past to beat Wojciech Szczesny with a fine strike inside the keeper’s near post.
Despite an improved sec- ond-half performance from Luciano Spalletti’s men, Roma failed in its attempt to beat the champion in a league game for the first time since 2010.
Juventus, meanwhile, celebrated a 25 th straight topflight home win — matching its own all-time league record from August 2013 to December 2014.
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said titles, not records, are all that interests him ahead of the Seria A and Coppa Italia champion’s Italian Super Cup clash against cup runner-up AC Milan in Doha on Friday.
“It was important for us to get the right result. We’ve left Roma seven points behind us, but the championship is still long,” said Allegri, who played down Juve’s latest record-equalling feat.
“That doesn’t interest me, the important thing is to finish top of the table at the end of the season.
“Now, we want to head to Doha in good physical condition.”
Roma remains second but, trailing by seven points, the pundits in Italy suggested Juventus already has the title sewn up.
Spalletti did not agree, but said it’s crunch time.
“We will have to bounce back from this and do really well if we’re to close the gap,” said the Italian, who had Polish stopper Szczesny to thank for keeping the score down in the second half.
He added: “Juventus were better than us individually, they showed how strong they are tonight.
“We did well to close down some of their attacks but we were lacking quality in our final touches.”
It is Juve’s third consecutive league win since a shock 3-1 loss to Genoa last month which gave hope to the likes of Roma and Milan.
“After what happened in Genoa, the real, stubborn and determined Juventus was pushed to the fore,” Buffon added.
“That’s what we saw tonight, we won as a team.”
Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring the winner against Roma in Turin on Saturday.