Juventus beat Samporia

 

A double by Alvaro Morata fired Juventus to a battling 3-1 win at Sampdoria on Saturday, with Massimiliano Allegri’s side now up to fourth place side in Serie A.

An own goal from Maya Yoshida and Morata’s sweetly-struck penalty helped Juve storm into a 2-0 first-half lead, with Sampdoria no match for the visitors in the opening period.

However, the home side took the game to Juve in the second half, winning a penalty after Adrien Rabiot’s handball, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a stunning stop.

Substitute Abdelhamid Sabiri’s deflected free-kick did get Sampdoria back into the contest six minutes from time, but Juve’s Spanish striker Morata arrived right on cue at the back post four minutes later to put the game to bed.

The win moved the Turin side to 56 points from 29 matches after a run of one defeat in 21 games in all competitions.

“We need to improve when we have control of the game,” Allegri told DAZN. “In the second half, we had to understand the situation better and work on our game management.

“In Genoa, it is not easy to win, but the team did well. It was important to win, to consolidate fourth place and better prepare for the Champions League,” he added ahead of the second leg at home to Villarreal on Wednesday with the score at 1-1.

Despite January signing Dusan Vlahovic being left on the bench, Juve had no trouble finding the target.

Moise Kean stood in for the Serbia striker and would have opened the scoring at the far post in the 23rd minute had Yoshida not got there first before Morata rifled home from the spot 11 minutes later after Kean had been fouled.

A late rally from Sampdoria threatened to derail Juve but penalty-saving expert Szczesny came to the rescue.

The Poland stopper became the first keeper to save three Serie A penalties in a row since Emiliano Viviano in the 2017-18 campaign when clawing out Antonio Candreva’s spot-kick.

Morata’s eighth league goal of the season sealed the win and the Spaniard has now scored 10 or more goals in all competitions in each of the last eight campaigns.

Sampdoria’s third defeat in their last four league games means they remain embroiled in a relegation battle in 16th, four points above the bottom three.

AC Milan extend lead

AC Milan extended their lead at the top of Serie A to five points after Pierre Kalulu’s first-half strike earned a 1-0 home win over Empoli on Saturday.

With second-placed champions Internazionale not in action until Sunday, Milan raced into a 19th minute lead thanks to French defender Kalulu’s arrowing strike into the bottom corner.

The hosts appeared nervy in the second period and struggled to create many more clear-cut openings as they looked to put the game to bed, with goalkeeper Mike Maignan forced into a fine save to preserve his side’s lead.

Milan nonetheless held on to secure a second successive 1-0 win and moved to 63 points from 29 matches, pulling clear of Inter, who play Torino on Sunday. Empoli stay 13th on 32.

Stefano Pioli’s side were not at their best but are now unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, closing on a first Scudetto since 2011 – something the coach is trying to play down.

“Nine games [left] is a lot,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. “Twenty-seven points [to play for] are a lot. All the top five are in with a chance of winning the title.

“We shouldn’t look too far ahead. I will only talk about the title before the last day of the season.

“Our opponents have to play tomorrow, there are still games to catch up. I think it would be much more normal if everyone had played all the games, then it is clear what we need to do.”

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Courtesy: Reuters

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