Narrow 2-1 win sees Juventus close gap at the top

MILAN: Juventus closed the gap at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win over bottom club Benevento on Sunday as leaders Napoli were held by Chievo and Inter Milan drew 1-1 against Torino.

Napoli drew 0-0 in Verona and have 32 points from 12 games, one point ahead of Juventus who move ahead of Inter, now another point back in third.

Despite their battling performance, newcomers Benevento, nicknamed ‘Le Streghe’ (The Witches), have now lost their first 12 games of the campaign, matching the worst start to a season in any of Europe’s big five leagues set by Manchester United in 1930.

“It seemed like a cursed game, as the ball just did not want to go in, but we needed to be calm, sharp and not too hasty,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Napoli — after falling 4-2 to Manchester City in the Champions League in midweek — dropped two points as they struggled with the absence of injured trio Pepe Reina, Faouzi Ghoulam and Arkadiusz Milik.

“We were coming off a difficult run of games and are lacking sharpness,” said coach Maurizio Sarri of his unbeaten side’s second draw of the campaign after a goalless stalemate with Inter. “We created the chances, but some players lacked brilliance and didn’t have the guile to finish them off. Chievo did what they had to do.”

Meanwhile, Roma — fresh despite their midweek 3-0 Champions League rout of Chelsea — stayed in touch in fifth with a game in hand after a thrilling 4-2 win over Fiorentina in Tuscany, with Brazilian Gerson scoring a first-half brace.

“I was afraid of this match, because after the win over Chelsea there was a risk that we might have become over-confident, but instead it was a good response from the players. They are still hungry,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

Earlier, Inter fought back after Iago Falque put Torino ahead on 59 minutes, with Eder coming off the bench to snatch a point 11 minutes from time after a neat touch from captain Mauro Icardi.

“The draw leaves something of a bitter taste in the mouth, we made some mistakes where we usually manage things in a different way,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti. “We had an opponent on our level in front of us, a team of substance.”

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