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Juventus escape Napoli siege with point

01 Mar 2013 22:16:56

Juventus escape Napoli siege with point

Juventus survived a second-half Napoli onslaught to draw 1-1 with their closest title rivals Friday, maintaining a six-point lead after a testing examination at a ground where they haven't won in 13 years.

Juventus, whose last league win at the Sao Paolo came way back in September 2000 when current coach Antonio Conte was playing in midfield, took the lead in the game but were indebted to veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for salvaging a point.

Napoli dangerman Marek Hamsik had fired a fierce drive over Buffon's crossbar before the visitors snatched the lead after just nine minutes.

Giorgio Chiellini rose above Miguel Angel Britos to power home a header past goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis from a fine, pinpoint cross by Andrea Pirlo.

It was a first goal of the season in Serie A for Chiellini in his 15th match.

But he almost failed to make the game, having to undergo a late fitness test on an ankle problem.

Both sides continued to have half-chances before Napoli levelled two minutes before half-time.

Swiss midfielder Gokhan Inler unleashed a 25-yard right-foot pile-driver which took a deflection off the head of Leonardo Bonucci and flew past the despairing dive of Buffon into the top corner.

In a bad-tempered end to the first half, Edinson Cavani was booked for elbowing Chiellini in the face, just moments after the Juventus player had cheekily tugged the flowing, dark hair of the Uruguayan.

The dangerous Hamsik brought a diving save out of Buffon just before the hour mark after being given too much space on the edge of the penalty area.

Buffon then pulled off a series of fine saves as Napoli began to pick their way through the Juventus defence.

On the 73-minute mark, he was almost beaten, however, when he parried a stinging Hamsik drive into the path of substitute Blerim Dzemaili who was unable to adjust his balance as the ball came towards him at speed and his shot was scuffed wide of the post.

Buffon then had to be alert to tip an Inler drive over the bar while Cavani thumped a late free-kick over the top in the dying moments.


AFP

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