Tevez at the double as Juve restore 14-point lead

26 March 2014 11:31

A brace from Carlos Tevez in a cagey 2-1 win over 10-man Parma restored Juventus's 14-point lead over Roma on Wednesday and kept the champions on track for a third consecutive Serie A title.

Roma had cut the gap on Tuesday with a last-minute 2-1 win at home to Torino.

But any expectations Juventus would hand Rudi Garcia's team hopes of a title slip-up were effectively over by the 65th minute in Turin, when Parma, having reduced the arrears thanks to Cristian Molinaro's half-volley, were reduced to 10 men when Amauri saw red for fouling defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Roberto Donadoni's visitors pushed the champions all the way but Juve held on for a 26th win which also kept them on track to become the first Serie A champions with at least 100 points from the season.

"It was a very important victory for us, especially coming as it did against a side defending a 17-match unbeaten run," Juve coach Antonio Conte told Sky Sport Italia.

Tevez's double took his tally to 18 for the season and top of the league scoring charts with a one-goal advantage on Ciro Immobile, who scored Torino's consolation in the 2-1 defeat to Roma.

The Argentinian, however, picked up a booking meaning he will miss Sunday's trip to Napoli, who meantime stayed in the hunt for the second automatic Champions League qualifying spot with a 4-2 win away to Catania.

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez left Gokhan Inler, Goran Pandev and Gonzalo Higuin on the bench for the trip to Sicily, where the hosts were looking for only their second win over their rivals in their last 10 league encounters.

However Benitez was pleased his rotation policy paid dividends: "We made a lot of changes for this game but the team played well overall."

Striker Duvan Zapata honoured his rare start, in place of Higuain, by scoring a brace, with Napoli's other goals coming from Jose Callejon and Brazilian defender Henrique.

Catania, to their credit, fought back with goals from Fabian Monzon and Gyomber keeping the visitors on their toes.

However Benitez's men held on to claim an 18th win which kept them third but still six points off Roma, who also have a game in hand.

- Boost for Seedorf -

"I'm delighted with the two goals and the faith the coach has put in me," said Zapata.

"It's not easy to be a deputy for Higuain," admitted Benitez. "The lad played well in the circumstances."

Napoli host Juventus on Saturday and Benitez admitted the season finale could produce fireworks.

"Nothing's been decided, in one sense or another. The final dash to the line will be very interesting and a lot of things could happen," he said.

Napoli were handed an unexpected favour when Phillipe Mexes and Mario Balotelli, from a free kick, scored one apiece in a shock 2-0 win away to Fiorentina to boost Milan's flagging campaign.

Although the win reduced the gap on the first Europa League place to eight points, the performance will boost the confidence of under-fire coach Clarence Seedorf.

"In the past days a lot of things have been written, and a lot of these things are simply false," said Seedorf after seeing his side end a four-game streak of three defeats and a draw.

"I'm focused on doing the best for Milan. This win is not for me, it's for the team, the club and the fans. All I can say is well done lads."

Fiorentina are also chasing the third and final Champions League qualifying spot and although still fourth Vincenzo Montella's men are now 10 points adrift of Napoli.

Elsewhere, Atalanta's 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Livorno, coupled with Lazio's shock 2-0 defeat away to Genoa, pushed the Bergamo-based side up to seventh and only four points off the first Europa League qualifying place held by fifth-placed Inter, who are in action against Udinese Thursday.

Verona slipped further out of Europa League contention with a 1-0 defeat away to Cagliari, a result which helped push Sampdoria, who snatched a 2-1 win away to struggling Sassuolo, up to ninth place.

Source: AFP