Juve joy at Christ­mas ‘cush­ion’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Turin

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.”

TONY GENTILE / REUTERS

Ju­ven­tus striker Gon­zalo Higuain cel­e­brates scor­ing the win­ner against Roma in Turin on Satur­day.

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