Helped by outstanding goals from Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba, Juventus ran out 3-0 winners in the top-of-the-table clash with Napoli to move to within a single point of Roma at the summit of Serie A. Level on points with Rafael Benitez’s side coming into Sunday’s contest in Turin, Juventus got off to a fast start and took the lead through Fernando Llorente inside just two minutes. Despite Rafael Benitez’s visitors improving after the break, they were sunk by first a wondrous free-kick by Pirlo and then an unstoppable volley by Pogba.
Following a stunning loss at Fiorentina when they surrendered a 2-0 lead, Antonio Conte’s side have now won four on the bounce in Serie A. And, after early pace-setters Roma drew their second game in succession earlier in the day, Juventus are ominously hitting their stride as they look to secure a third-straight Serie A title.
After their 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in midweek, Conte switched back to their familiar 3-5-2 shape, with Claudio Marchisio missing out and Llorente continuing his partnership up front with Carlos Tevez. They got off to a roaring start and could have even been ahead inside the opening minute. The superb Pogba had an effort turned wide by Pepe Reina in the Napoli goal. But just moments later there was to be nothing that the goalkeeper on loan from Liverpool could do to prevent his side falling behind. Tevez’s shot deflected and ran across the face of goal and Llorente was the quickest to react to poke the ball into the net.
Juventus continued their dominance for the rest of the period as Napoli struggled to get their attacking midfield trident, and especially Marek Hamsik, into the game. Napoli had Reina to thank for several fine saves that meant the score line wasn’t more emphatic at the break.
It wasn’t until the second half that the visitors got going. They missed a glorious chance to pull level when Hamsik controlled well down the right of the box but fired his shot wide into the side netting. It was a similar scenario at the other end too when Arturo Vidal missed an even clearer chance by side-footing wide of the upright.
The match was looking set for a tense finale until two stunning interventions from Juventus midfielders. First, from a position right of center, Pirlo somehow got the ball up and down with swerve to send the ball flying into the top right corner of the net. If that wasn’t enough, Pogba soon produced a strike to match his experienced teammate. The 20-year-old’s first touch receiving the ball 25 yards out was poor, sending the ball looping into the air, but he certainly made the most of it with a perfectly struck volley that curled away from Reina and flew in off the post.
The only negative on an otherwise good day all round for Juventus was a second yellow card picked up by defender Angelo Ogbonna.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.