SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 25 - content); ?>
Juventus 1 - 0 Napoli
Zaza 88 (J)
Juventus Stadium

Simone Zaza’s last-gasp deflected strike gave Juventus victory over Napoli as the Turin giants leap to the top of the table.

There were only two points separating second from first, as the Bianconeri were on 14 consecutive victories and the Partenopei had won their last eight. Juve adjusted to 4-4-2 after losing Giorgio Chiellini, Mario Mandzukic, Kwadwo Asamoah, Martin Caceres and Mario Lemina, but Sami Khedira recovered much quicker than expected from a muscular problem to start.

Napoli have only seven top flight victories in Turin, 20 stalemates and 42 defeats, in which they scored 65 goals and conceded 123. The most recent Napoli Serie A win here was 3-2 on October 31 2009, followed by a 2-2 draw in May 2011 and four consecutive defeats.

Juan Cuadrado fired straight at Pepe Reina, but there was a bizarre incident when Khedira collided with Leonardo Bonucci and left the defender hobbling badly.

Paul Pogba’s free kick whistled just past the far top corner, but Bonucci performed an absolutely extraordinary interception to stop Gonzalo Higuain nodding in from six yards. The Elseid Hysaj cross was whipped in from the right and he stuck out a long leg to somehow flick the ball off his diving header and avoid an own goal. On the resulting corner, Gigi Buffon parried Raul Albiol’s volley at the back post, but the defender was penalised for a shove on Andrea Barzagli.

Higuain came sliding in just unable to meet another Jose Callejon cross from the right, while Reina smothered a Claudio Marchisio shot after Cuadrado rode two tackles.

Straight after the restart Insigne dribbled between two players at the by-line and his toe-poke was denied by Buffon at the near post.

Khedira knocked back a corner at the by-line for Evra to balloon over, but that earlier knock to the knee forced Bonucci to come off. Daniele Rugani came off the bench against mentor Maurizio Sarri and the club that tried to sign him for €25m.

Pogba’s splendid first touch and control brought down a long ball and immediately set up Dybala, who should’ve done better when blasting just over from inside the box.

Marek Hamsik unleashed a screamer from distance that flashed just over the near top corner.

It had seemed to be heading for a stalemate until the penultimate minute, when substitute Simone Zaza hit a scorcher that took a slight deflection off Raul Albiol to lift it over a helpless Reina. The Bianconeri go top of the table for the first time all season with a 15th consecutive victory.

Manolo Gabbiadini scuffed a chance with his weaker right foot, but this result means Juve and Napoli are totally equal in terms of a head-to-head record.

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Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Bonucci (Rugani 52), Barzagli, Evra; Cuadrado, Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba; Morata (Zaza 58), Dybala (Alex Sandro 86)
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan (Gabbiadini 90), Jorginho, Hamsik; Callejon, Higuain, Insigne (Mertens 77)
Ref: Orsato