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Juventus beats Palermo in coach Conte's return

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Associated Press
12/9/2012 1:31:05 PM
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MILAN, Italy -- Defending champion Juventus celebrated coach Antonio Conte's return with a win, beating Palermo 1-0 in Serie A on Sunday.

Stephan Lichtsteiner scored five minutes into the second half for Juventus, which also hit the goal-frame twice through Mirko Vucinic.

Palermo had a first-half strike from Fabrizio Miccoli ruled out for offside and also had Michel Morganella sent off 15 minutes from time after picking up his second yellow card.

It was Conte's first match back on the bench after serving a four-month ban for failing to report match-fixing when he coached Siena two seasons ago.

Juventus is four points ahead of Inter Milan, which beat Napoli 3-1 to move above its opponent into second place in the standings.

"I missed the smell of the grass," Conte said. "These four months have been painful, but it was a formative experience. With my absence it was as if Juve was a car starting the grand prix with deflated tires. But I have special players, a special club ... I am a bit special, too.

"I've learnt a lot in these four months. I had a club which was strongly by my side and the squad did something extraordinary. If this had happened last year, when I started at Juve, my career would have been ruined."

Elsewhere, AC Milan continued its recent resurgence with its third consecutive league victory, winning 4-2 at Torino, but midfielder Nigel De Jong's season is over after he snapped his Achilles tendon in the 21st minute.

"We did well to earn a great victory," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Perhaps in the first half we could've done more in terms of technique and pace, but the lads still created a lot and I am satisfied with their performance.

"We are slowly growing and improving. It's just a terrible shame about De Jong, who will be out for the rest of the season, and of course all the lads dedicate the win to him."

Torino coach Giampiero Ventura was taken ill during the match and assistant Salvatore Sullo gave directions from the touchline in the second half. Ventura was checked by ambulance staff after the final whistle but the club says he is fine.

In Sicily, Miccoli thought he had given Palermo the lead in the 17th minute with a lovely shot from a tight angle on the right side of the area but he was marginally offside.

Juventus should have taken the lead in the 36th when Claudio Marchisio's shot was deflected straight to Vucinic, who side-footed the ball onto the right post from six yards with the goal gaping.

Vucinic hit the post again 30 seconds after the restart before helping Juventus finally break the deadlock five minutes later. Vucinic beat Steve Von Bergen to chest down a long pass from Andrea Pirlo and backheel it for the onrushing Lichtsteiner to fire home.

Inter scored with its only two shots of the first half. Fredy Guarin was left completely unmarked to volley in Antonio Cassano's corner in the eighth minute.

Guarin turned provider as Inter doubled its lead six minutes from the interval. He threaded the ball through to Diego Milito, who fended off Alessandro Gamberini and fired into the bottom corner despite goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis getting a hand to the ball.

Napoli pulled one back when Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic made two great saves before Edison Cavani bundled the ball into the net.

In Turin, Milan gifted Torino the lead with a dreadful howler from midfielder Antonio Nocerino, who passed the ball back to no-one from the halfway line.

Mario Alberto Santana raced onto the ball before rounding goalkeeper Marco Amelia and slotting home.

Milan levelled five minutes before the break when Robinho collected the ball in the area, feinted past Valerio Di Cesare and fired in under the crossbar.

Nocerino atoned for his earlier mistake when he headed home after Jean-Francois Gillet had palmed away Stephan El Shaarawy's cross.

Giampaolo Pazzini extended Milan's advantage in controversial circumstances, with Torino fuming after he clattered into Salvatore Masiello to win the ball in the area.

El Shaarawy sealed the result 15 minutes from time with his 13th league goal of the season after Milan had hit the woodwork twice

Torino got one back when Rolando Bianchi headed in Valter Birsa's cross.

Cristiano Bergodi recorded his first win as Pescara coach as it beat fellow strugglers Genoa 2-0 to end a four-game losing streak.

It is Genoa coach Luigi Del Neri's seventh loss in eight games in charge.

Elvis Abbruscato and Ante Vukusic scored in the second half.

Genoa is now second last in the table, a point above Siena, which lost 3-1 at home to Catania.

Alessandro Rosina put Siena in front in the 10th minute but Lucas Castro levelled five minutes into the second half and Gonzalo Bergessio added a brace.

Chievo Verona won 2-0 at Cagliari thanks to goals from Alberto Paloschi and Cyril Thereau.

Stephan Lichtsteiner (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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