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Last gasp Giaccherini sends Juve nine clear
March 11, 2013 , 11 : 07 am
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Juventus' Emanuele Giaccherini celebrates after scoring against Catania during their Italian Serie A soccer match at the Juventus stadium in Turin. Photo - Reuters
Substitute Emanuele Giaccherini struck in injury time to snatch a 1-0 win for an uninspired Juventus at home to Catania on Sunday to increase their Serie A lead to nine points. Giaccherini had only been on the field 15 minutes, during which time he'd been booked for diving, when he shot home from the centre of the box following a storming run from Paul Pogba down the right.
That last-gasp goal completed a joyful day for the reigning champions as their nearest challengers Napoli crashed to a 2-0 defeat at struggling Chievo. Juve came up against determined opponents who refused to relinquish an inch of space in defence and the hosts lacked the inspiration to break them down.
Mirko Vucinic did hit a post in the first period while Claudio Marchisio came close to opening the score but Catania remained resolute and determined. After the break young French prospect Pogba tested Argentine goalkeeper Mariano Andujar while Marchisio swept a shot just over the bar but Juventus, with Andrea Pirlo stifled in midfield, simply could not find a breakthrough.
That was until Giaccherini's injury-time intervention and even after that fellow substitute Fabio Quagliarella should have put the gloss on the score when he was sent through one-on-one with Andujar but the goalkeeper trumped the forward. "It's been a very demanding week between Napoli, the Champions League and Catania," said Juve coach Antonio Conte.
"Tomorrow (Monday) I've given (the players) a day off, which wasn't planned, just to recuperate.
"Every week is becoming crucial, we need to place each brick in place and if we then do well enough to achieve the half of it, we'll relax a little."
It was a miserable day for Napoli in Verona as they fell to defeat at Chievo for the third year in a row. Serie A top scorer Edinson Cavani even missed a spot-kick and Napoli's goalscoring troubles are now becoming increasingly acute.
They have managed only two goals in their last seven games in all competitions while Cavani's last successful strike came at the end of January. Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri played down his side's title chances and claimed they have more modest aims.
"No-one in this club has ever spoken about the title, we've been clear about that," he said.
"We wanted to develop this group and try to stay in the top five. We're second, have six more points than at the same stage last season and that's what counts."
French-born Senegal international full back Boukary Drame opened the scoring for Chievo on 12 minutes with Frenchman Cyril Thereau doubling the advantage just before the break. The defeat leaves out-of-sorts Napoli, who have not won in their last seven games in all competitions and five in the league, dropping into the clutches of hard-charging AC Milan.
AC won 2-0 at lowly Genoa on Friday night to take their unbeaten run in the league to 10 games and now trail the Neapolitans by just two points. And their happy weekend was completed when their two nearest challengers for that final Champions League berth both lost at home.
Bitter city rivals Inter Milan crashed 1-0 against Bologna with former Milan striker Alberto Gilardino snatching the only goal of the game. And Lazio slumped to a 2-0 loss against Fiorentina with goals from Montenegrin Stevan Jovetic and Serb Adem Ljajic.
The Viola leaped over both Inter and Lazio onto 48 points, three behind Milan and one above the other two. Siena boosted their survival hopes with a crucial 2-1 win at fellow-strugglers Palermo.
The Tuscans started the season with a six-point reduction for match-fixing offences but are now just two-points off Genoa in the final safety position. Brazilian-born Italy international Amauri scored a hat-trick as Parma hit four goals in the last 13 minutes to overturn a 1-0 deficit at home to Torino and record a convincing 4-1 success.
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