Routine win for Juventus, Atalanta stun wasteful Napoli in Serie A

Rome, Feb 26 (IANS) Serie A leaders Juventus took their lead to 10 points provisionally following their 2-0 win over Empoli in Turin, while third-placed Napoli bowed to a fast-rising Atalanta at home in the Italian football league.

Five-time defending champions Juventus on Saturday night broke Empoli’s resistance in the second half when a Mario Mandzukic header off a right cross from Juan Cuadrado induced an own goal for Lukasz Skorupski in the 52nd minute.

Then, Alex Sandro put the match beyond doubt in thr 65th minute for the hosts who registered their 30th successive win at the Juventus Stadium.

With the win, Massimilano Allegri’s men took a 10-point lead at the top over Roma, who face a tough battle against Inter Milan on Sunday night.

Allegri told Juventus website: “It was a good performance and we read the game well tonight. We came into this match on the back of a big result in the Champions League, a competition which always takes a lot out of you mentally and physically, but the lads went out there and kept things nice and tidy.

“It’s never easy to face Empoli because they shift the ball around well. We were unable to find a breakthrough in the first half despite the chances we had.

“They started to wane a little after the break, we upped the tempo and got the two goals to secure a great win.”

It was a fruitful day for the Turin giants even before they kicked a ball as their rivals Napoli succumbed to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Atalanta.

Young defender Mattia Caldara, who will join record Serie A champions Juventus next season, scored twice in each half — one a header while another a powerful drive following a counter-attack to put his side only three points behind the Napoli.

Atalanta suffered a big blow when midfield sensation Franck Kessie was given a red card in the 67th minute but Caldara’s second goal three minutes later and a wasteful Napoli saw them pocket three points.

–IANS

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