Juventus go three points clear as Roma slip

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Photo: AFP
12:07 CET+01:00
Champions Juventus restored their three-point lead at the top of Serie A on Saturday with a 2-0 win at struggling Empoli while rivals Roma slumped to a 2-0 defeat to a rapidly improving Napoli.

In Saturday's late game Inter were stunned 2-0 at Parma, a result which moved the hosts off the bottom of the table and heaped further pressure on Nerazzurri coach Walter Mazzarri.

Andrea Pirlo and Alvaro Morata got the goals for Juve in the space of 11 second-half minutes in the first meeting between the two sides since 2008.

Pirlo opened the scoring with his first goal of the season, a sweet free-kick which dipped over the wall and past Davide Bassi in the Empoli goal.

Former Empoli player Claudio Marchisio then hit the woodwork before ex-Real Madrid star Morata made it 2-0 with a left-foot curler.

After a first defeat of the season away to Genoa in midweek and with Tuesday's Champions League Group A clash at home to Olympiakos on the horizon, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri welomed the morale-boosting win.

"It was important for us to get back to winning ways on the road, especially after the Roma result," Allegri, who rested both Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente for the trip to Empoli, told Sky Sport.

Sebastian Giovinco partnered Morata up front and Allegri added: "Giovinco had a decent performance, he had two or three chances and showed good movement, considering it is the first time he and Morata have played together up front.

"We needed to rest a few of the other players and they both put in a good shift."

Earlier, a spectacular early strike from Gonzalo Higuain and a late Jose Callejon goal handed Napoli a precious 2-0 win over title challengers Roma that moved Rafael Benitez's men up to third.

Napoli and Roma met at Napoli's San Paolo stadium for the first time since the death of 31-year-old Ciro Esposito, a Napoli fan who was killed by a hardline Roma 'ultra' on the fringes of the Italian Cup final last May.

Approximately 600 police were deployed in and around the stadium but the drama was played out exclusively on the pitch as Napoli dominated from the outset to rubber-stamp their return to form following a difficult start to the season.

"I've said for a long time we need to take it one game at a time. I don't deserve the credit for this win, it's all down to the players," Benitez told Sky Sport.

Napoli bossed the entire first half and Higuain gave the hosts a three-minute lead with an acrobatic bicycle kick that beat Roma 'keeper Morgan De Sanctis from inside the area.

It was the Argentinian's fifth goal inside a week, Higuain having scored a hat-trick last weekend in a 6-2 win over Verona and one from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw away to Atalanta in midweek.

Higuain set up Callejon for Napoli's second five minutes from time to rubber-stamp their return to form following a dismal start to the campaign.

"Napoli were the strongest. The best team won," said Roma coach Rudi Garcia.

"At the start we got our approach all wrong. In the first half we hardly won any of our tackles."

Garcia admitted Roma had suffered a "mental problem".

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"It's the first time it's happened, but we have to make sure it's the last time," he added.

Callejon's goal was his eighth of the campaign and left the Spaniard top of the league scoring charts.

Garcia, however, was not the only Serie A coach lamenting his side's psychological state as Inter continued to stumble when it came to winning a third consecutive game under coach Mazzarri.

Their defeat to Parma, courtesy of a brace of goals in either half from former Juve midfielder Paolo De Ceglie, left Mazzarri scratching his head.

"If I have to sum it up, we never manage to make the required leap in quality. We have to work on that," said Mazzarri.

Having climbed up towards the European places last week, Inter are now ninth and again 10 points adrift of Juve before the remainder of the weekend's fixtures.

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