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Juventus beats Inter to provisionally extend Serie A lead

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Associated Press
3/30/2013 6:18:40 PM
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MILAN, Italy -- Juventus beat bitter rival Inter Milan 2-1 in an entertaining match at San Siro and remained nine points clear at the top of Serie A after Napoli won 5-3 in a thrilling game at Torino on Saturday.

It took Juventus less than three minutes to take the lead with a stunning strike from Fabio Quagliarella.

Rodrigo Palacio levelled in the 55th but Juventus was back in front five minutes later when Alessandro Matri fired in from close range.

Inter's Esteban Cambiasso was sent off for the first time in his club career following a brutal tackle on Sebastian Giovinco as the final whistle sounded. He later went into the Juventus dressing room to apologize to the young striker.

"We achieved a great result, as in my view Inter is capable of beating anyone," Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. "We put another brick down on the foundations of the Scudetto, but we have to be careful of Napoli and AC Milan who are behind us and can't wait to make the most of any slip-up."

Substitute Edison Cavani scored a late double to keep Napoli's slim title hopes alive. Milan remains two points behind Napoli after beating 10-man Chievo Verona 1-0, taking a huge step towards securing a Champions League berth after Fiorentina and Roma lost.

Lazio came from behind to beat Catania 2-1.

At the other end of the table Genoa drew 2-2 with Siena in a relegation battle.

Juventus was keen for revenge after Inter ended its 49-match unbeaten streak in November. And it got off to the perfect start when Quagliarella curled a shot into the top right corner from 25 yards.

Palacio levelled 10 minutes after the interval, collecting Antonio Cassano's pass and forcing his way into the area before slotting past Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus' riposte was quick when Quagliarella just managed to keep Arturo Vidal's ball from going over the byline and crossed for Matri to tap home at the near post.

Inter was nine points off third and leapfrogged by Lazio.

"Inter had another great game, there's a bit of bitterness, we deserved a draw," Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni said. "Fabio Quagliarella's goal after a few minutes put the game on the right track for Juventus.

"We played an open game in the second half and did better. It's a pity their second goal came during our best moment of the match. But we're improving."

Napoli knew it had to win to stay in touch with Juventus and it looked grim when Riccardo Meggiorini took advantage of a defensive howler to put Torino 3-2 up. However, Blerim Dzemaili completed his hat trick against his former club before Cavani -- who had given away a penalty earlier in the match -- secured all three points.

Cavani started from the bench as the Uruguayan joined the team only late Friday after missing his flight back from international duty.

Napoli striker Marek Hamsik also saw his first-half penalty saved.

"We had a great game," Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said. "And I am happy even if we again made sloppy defensive mistakes, which could have cost us points.

"We have grown in comparison to last year, even if at times we hurt ourselves. We have grown a lot, we have 11 more points, but a more mature squad would have gone 2-0 up and controlled the game; instead we made life difficult for ourselves."

Milan was six points above fourth-place Fiorentina after Mario Balotelli helped it to another victory.

Chievo goalkeeper Christian Puggioni could only parry Balotelli's fierce free kick and Riccardo Montolivo was quickest to react and smash home the rebound.

Dario Dainelli was sent off for Chievo following a second booking 13 minutes from time.

Fiorentina lost 2-1 at Cagliari in front of an empty stadium as Is Arenas was again closed to fans because of safety issues.

Roma remained level on points with Inter after it suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Palermo.

Josip Ilicic and Fabrizio Miccoli scored for Palermo which also hit the woodwork twice.

Palermo moved off the bottom spot with its first win since November and was just three points from safety after Genoa's draw with Siena.

Pescara was six points from safety after it lost 3-0 at Parma.

Elsewhere, Antonio Di Natale had a penalty saved as Udinese drew 0-0 at home to Bologna. There was also a goalless draw between Atalanta and Sampdoria.

Alessandro Matri (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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