Ju­ven­tus grinds out 2-1 win at Chievo in Serie A

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ti­tle-win­ning teams of­ten grind out re­sults de­spite not play­ing well - and that is pre­cisely what Ju­ven­tus is do­ing. Chievo Verona had won just one of its last six matches but Ju­ven­tus strug­gled to break it down be­fore even­tu­ally win­ning 2-1 on Sun­day.

Ju­ven­tus re­mained four points clear of sec­ond-placed Roma and five above AC Mi­lan. Mi­ralem Pjanic had strug­gled to fit in since trans­fer­ring from Roma in the off­sea­son but he scored what was to prove the win­ner for Ju­ven­tus in the 75th minute with a trade­mark free kick into the top right cor­ner from just out­side the area. Chievo goal­keeper Ste­fano Sor­rentino barely moved. “I won the free kick and I put it in. I’m happy, but what’s im­por­tant, above all, is the three points,” Pjanic said. “I al­ways do my ut­most to fit in as best as pos­si­ble, it’s ob­vi­ous that I want to do more, but it’s a new sys­tem, it’s a dif­fer­ent kind of foot­ball to where I was be­fore, but I’m adapt­ing.

“I’m not wor­ried, I know that there are al­ways great ex­pec­ta­tions in a great club, that doesn’t worry me, I’m stay­ing calm, I do my work as best as pos­si­ble. So slowly but surely I’ll get there, I’m a new foot­baller here, but I’m happy to be here.” Mario Mandzu­kic broke the dead­lock in the 53rd, con­trol­ling Juan Cuadrado’s through ball be­fore driv­ing across into the bot­tom left cor­ner. Mandzu­kic al­most scored a stun­ning goal in the first half, nod­ding on a long ball and flick­ing it over Ni­co­las Spolli be­fore fir­ing over the bar from six yards.

Ju­ven­tus goal­keeper Gian­luigi Buf­fon was mak­ing his 600th Serie A ap­pear­ance, be­com­ing only the fourth player to reach that mark af­ter Paolo Mal­dini (647), Javier Zanetti (615) - who are both re­tired - and Roma captain Francesco Totti (607). Buf­fon was de­ci­sive in the 64th to deny Lu­cas Cas­tro from point-blank range, but could do noth­ing mo­ments later as Ser­gio Pel­lissier con­verted a penalty af­ter be­ing tripped by Stephan Licht­steiner. There was more bad news on the in­jury front for Ju­ven­tus, which is al­ready with­out Giorgio Chiellini. Fel­low de­fender An­drea Barza­gli was stretchered off in the fifth minute with a dis­lo­cated shoul­der.

PALERMO, 1 AC MI­LAN 2

It was the bat­tle of the young goal­keep­ers in Si­cily. Mi­lan shot­stop­per Gian­luigi Don­narumma is just 17, while Palermo coun­ter­part Josip Posavec is 20. Their com­bined age is less than that of Buf­fon, who is 38.

Posavec gifted Mi­lan the lead in the 15th minute, col­lid­ing with his own de­fender as he came out to col­lect Mat­tia De Sciglio’s cross and los­ing the ball, al­low­ing Suso to de­posit the ball into an empty net.

Posavec made up for his er­ror in the sec­ond half with three stun­ning saves to deny Suso each time but was beaten in the 82nd, when sub­sti­tute Gian­luca La­padula cheek­ily back­heeled Suso’s long-range at­tempt into the bot­tom cor­ner. It was the first Serie A goal for La­padula, who had only been on the pitch three min­utes.

Palermo had lev­eled in the 71st when Ilija Nestorovski ran onto Alessandro Dia­manti’s through ball and drilled it into the near cor­ner for his third goal in as many matches.

IN­TER MI­LAN 3, CROTONE 0

Prob­lems con­tin­ued for man­ager­less In­ter Mi­lan on and off the pitch, with a win over Serie A’s bot­tom side in a hos­tile at­mos­phere at San Siro. The score­line was more gen­er­ous than In­ter de­served, with three goals in the fi­nal six min­utes. Mauro Icardi net­ted twice, the first a penalty, af­ter Ivan Perisic had fired the Ner­az­zurri in front. It was only In­ter’s fifth win this sea­son and fans made their dis­plea­sure known with sev­eral in­sult­ing ban­ners di­rected at the play­ers as well as the club own­ers and di­rec­tors. The club re­leased a state­ment on Sun­day, say­ing it would an­nounce the new coach in 48 hours. Youth coach Ste­fano Vec­chi re­placed the fired Frank de Boer on Tues­day on a tem­po­rary ba­sis.

ROMA 3, BOLOGNA 0

Af­ter Icardi moved level with Edin Dzeko at the top of the scor­ing charts, all eyes were on the Roma for­ward to see if he would strike again. In­stead of Dzeko, it was Mo­hamed Salah who stole the head­lines with his first hat trick in club foot­ball. Roma went ahead in the 13th minute as Adam Masina at­tempted to clear Salah’s ef­fort but only suc­ceeded in prod­ding it past his own goal­keeper. The league cred­ited the goal to Salah and the for­mer Chelsea midfielder went on to score a sec­ond-half brace, tak­ing his tally to eight for the sea­son - one be­hind Ciro Im­mo­bile and two be­low Dzeko and Icardi.

The only other time Salah has net­ted three in a match was in a World Cup qual­i­fier for Egypt against Zim­babwe in 2013.

OTHER MATCHES

Em­poli ended its goal drought in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, scor­ing dou­ble the num­ber of goals it had net­ted all sea­son, in a 4-0 win at fel­low strug­gler Pescara. Mas­simo Mac­carone net­ted twice for Em­poli, which hadn’t found the back of the net in the last eight rounds, and also pro­vided the as­sist for Manuel Puc­cia­relli. Ric­cardo Saponara added a fourth in the fi­nal minute.

Ata­lanta won 3-0 at Sas­suolo to con­tinue its im­pres­sive run of form and move level on points with fourth-placed Lazio af­ter a sixth win in seven matches. Else­where, Fiorentina vs. Sam­p­do­ria and Genoa vs. Udi­nese both ended 1-1.

— AP

VERONA: Mi­ralem Pjanic scores dur­ing the Serie A soc­cer match be­tween Chievo Verona and Ju­ven­tus at the Ben­te­godi sta­dium in Verona, Italy, Sun­day.

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