Juve back in title picture

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Reigning champions Juventus burst back into the Serie A title race with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over fierce rivals Fiorentina.

The Bianconeri fell from grace by opening their fourth Scudetto defence with back-to-back defeats, but they are now only six points behind leaders Inter Milan after winning six games in a row.

Josip Ilicic’s penalty was cancelled out by former Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado, on loan at the Juventus Stadium, with Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala completing the turnaround in the second half.

Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve are now fourth ahead of next Sunday’s trip to face lowly Carpi, while second-placed Fiorentina, who next entertain Chievo, remain four points shy of Inter.

Wojciech Szczesny excelled in the Roma goal as ambitious Napoli were held to a goalless draw at the Stadio San Paolo.

Roma looked like scoring in the first half but Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli turned the screw after the break, with on-loan Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny standing between them and a seventh straight home win.

The Giallorossi might complain that Daniele De Rossi had a late goal ruled out due to a debatable line call, but in reality taking a point from this fixture represents a timely upturn in league form.

Misfiring AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by basement boys Hellas Verona at San Siro.

Sinisa Mihajlovic has watched his Rossoneri drop points to the likes of Carpi in recent weeks and the club’s mission to return to the Champions League places is looking increasingly frangible.

Milan took the lead through Carlos Bacca shortly after half-time, but paid a heavy price for Nigel de Jong’s decision to commit a professional foul. He was sent off and Luca Toni levelled from the spot.

Valter Birsa’s second-half strike saw Chievo beat nine-man Atalanta 1-0 in Verona.

Nicolo Cherubin’s 66th-minute dismissal offered Alberto Paloschi the chance to score a penalty, but Marco Sportiello denied him, meaning Birsa had to produce the winner 10 minutes later.

To compound Atalanta’s disappointment, Jasmin Kurtic was sent off for dissent in stoppage time.

Elsewhere, Massimo Maccarone scored twice and set up a third goal for Riccardo Saponara as upwardly-mobile Empoli brushed struggling Carpi aside 3-0 at the Stadio Carlo Castellani.

Serie A leaders Inter Milan moved four points clear at the top with a convincing 4-0 victory at Udinese on Saturday.

Mauro Icardi scored once in each half with Stevan Jovetic and substitute Marcelo Brozovic – the author of a fine solo goal at the death – also on target at the Stadio Friuli.

Second-placed Fiorentina can close the gap to a single point by beating Juventus in Turin on Sunday.

Inter looked incisive from the off, with Adem Ljajic threading a ball through the middle to Ivan Perisic, who set up Jovetic only for Orestis Karnezis to make a spectacular save.

The next Inter attack yielded a goal. Bruno Fernandes’ pass back to Karnezis was a poor one and Icardi capitalised by stealing in to sweep the ball home.

Inter’s tails were up and Jovetic made it 2-0, again thanks to an error by the hosts as Maurizio Domizzi’s swipe at thin air allowed the Montenegrin an easy finish under the stranded Karnezis.

Cyril Thereau and Udinese had a goal ruled out for offside shortly after the break and in the 69th minute Samir Handanovic did well to keep both Silvan Widmer and Manuel Iturra at bay.

Inter always looked like scoring again and Icardi provided the third goal with seven minutes remaining, the Argentinian beating Karnezis with his left foot.

The best finish of the night belonged to Brozovic, though.

Fredy Guarin slipped him a pass and, after switching feet, he steered his strike from the left flank to the far corner of Karnezis’ goal.

Saturday’s other encounter between Sassuolo and Torino was postponed due to the weather.

 

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