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Juventus beats Fiorentina to extend Serie A lead to 14

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The Canadian Press
3/9/2014 6:19:14 PM
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MILAN, Italy -- Juventus took a giant step towards a third straight Serie A title after beating Fiorentina 1-0 on Sunday to extend its lead at the top of the standings to 14 points with second-placed Roma losing 1-0 at Napoli.

Roma has a game in hand but now second place is even at risk for the capital side as Napoli moved to within three points with the win.

"The result is not always fair," Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. "If we play like this until the end we will win many matches. We've lost a bit of efficiency in front of goal and also a bit of luck. We need to be more clinical again.

"The gap is already too much for the title. We have to go forwards and remain focused for second spot."

In Turin, Kwadwo Asamoah scored a brilliant goal three minutes from halftime to give Juventus the lead.

"The wins against Milan and today have put pressure on those behind us," Juventus coach Antonio Conte said.

"I feel we're 50% champions, there are still 11 matches left. We shouldn't give up, like that those behind us will convince themselves they can't do it," added Conte.

Unlike the first match this season where Juventus squandered a two-goal lead against Fiorentina to lose 4-2 -- its only league defeat this campaign -- the Bianconeri held on to record its 14th home league victory. It has a perfect record at the Juventus Stadium this season.

Inter Milan is only a point behind fourth-placed Fiorentina after beating Torino 1-0. Parma, which has a game in hand, is a point further back following its 2-0 victory over Hellas Verona.

Lazio lost 1-0 at home to Atalanta in a match which saw Antonio Candreva sent off for two bookings.

At the other end of the table, Livorno wasted a two-goal lead to lose a relegation battle 4-2 at Sampdoria.

Elsewhere, Chievo Verona secured a 2-1 win over Genoa, while Bologna and Sassuolo played out a goalless draw.

It was the first of three matches in less than two weeks between Juventus and Fiorentina as they meet in the Europa League.

"I think we had a great second half. We have to pick up from there," Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. "On Thursday we have the chance to have our say and show what we can do."

Juventus broke the deadlock when Asamoah cut in from the left and carved out space between four Fiorentina defenders before unleashing a stunning effort which took a slight deflection before going in off the inside of the far post.

Fiorentina was improving and went closest 11 minutes from time when substitute Ryder Matos headed off the crossbar shortly after coming off the bench.

Napoli had beaten Roma 3-0 the last time the two sides met at the Sao Paolo, in the Italian Cup semifinal.

Jose Maria Callejon scored in that match and he did so again eight minutes from time, heading Faouzi Ghoulam's cross in off the underside of the crossbar as Roma fell to only its second league defeat of the season.

"This was a very important match for us," Callejon said. "We all gave 110% and at the end we won. We showed our character.

"Now Napoli's aim is second spot."

Roma will also be waiting on news of Kevin Strootman as the midfielder was stretchered off in obvious agony after landing heavily on his left knee in the 12th minute. It is feared the Dutch international has suffered ligament damage.

Inter is sneaking up on Fiorentina after stretching its unbeaten run to five.

Inter took a deserved lead in bizarre circumstances as Rodrigo Palacio appeared to be trying to nod Esteban Cambiasso's cross back across the face of goal but it went in at the far post.

Parma and Verona were level on points at the start of the match and knew the victor would boost its hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.

Jonathan Biabiany got a decisive touch to deflect Massimo Gobbi's snap shot into the net off the inside of the right post in the 20th.

Parma sealed the result in stoppage time as Antonio Cassano stole the ball off Verona goalkeeper Rafael and, although his curling shot crashed off the post, Ezequiel Schelotto was on hand to follow up.

Livorno appeared to be heading for all three points after a double from Ibrahima Mbaye had given it a two-goal lead.

However, Sampdoria was level eight minutes after the break thanks to a strike from substitute Nenad Krsticic and an own goal from Federico Ceccherini. Stefano Okaka and Manolo Gabbiadini sealed the result.

Livorno remained in the relegation zone, two points behind Bologna and three below Chievo.

Kwadwo Asamoah (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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