A late goal by Paul Pogba steered Juventus to a 1-0 win at Parma in Antonio Conte’s 100th match as coach on Saturday,while Napoli also kept the pressure on Serie A leader Roma with a 2-1 win at home to Catania.
There was more misery for AC Milan as it slipped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Fiorentina. Milan was resoundingly jeered by the fans,who also unfurled a large banner demonstrating their displeasure. Vice President Adriano Galliani left the stands after Fiorentina’s second goal and there were reports afterwards of a tense dressing-room meeting between the squad and Barbara Berlusconi,daughter of the club president.
Milan,which remains provisionally 10th,will go into a training camp from Sunday,ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League match against Barcelona.
Conte rested several players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match against Real Madrid but was forced to send on Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Quagliarella as they struggled to carve out opportunities. Quagliarella had an immediate effect two minutes after going off the bench with a stunning long-range shot which crashed off the crossbar and into Pogba’s path,allowing the young Frenchman to coolly slot into the bottom corner in the 77th minute. Amauri had Parma’s best chance with a backheeled effort which fizzed just past the left upright from close range.
Juventus and Napoli are provisionally two points behind Roma,which has won all of its matches and travels to Torino on Sunday. Catania had not won in Naples since 1960-61 and Jose Maria Callejon gave Napoli the lead in the 15th minute with another stunning strike,curling the ball into the top corner from 20 yards. Napoli doubled its lead five minutes later when Lorenzon Insigne rolled the ball across the outside of the penalty area for Marek Hamsik to hit first time into the top left corner. Catania had not scored since Luigi De Canio replaced Rolando Maran as coach nearly two weeks ago,but it got back into the game in the 25th minute when Lucas Castro turned in Maxi Lopez’s cross.
Next up for Napoli is Marseille in the Champions League on Wednesday,then a visit to Juventus next weekend. It was an important win but we suffered a lot, Gonzalo Higuain said. Catania’s goal put us a bit in difficulty. These three points are good for our league position. Now we’ll think about the Champions League.
Home fans cheer Ambrosini
In Milan,former captain Massimo Ambrosini was given a warm welcome by the home fans,who displayed a banner paying tribute to his 18 years at the club. The Fiorentina midfielder was also given a standing ovation when he was substituted.
Juan Vargas broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when his free kick took a deflection off Sulley Muntari in the Milan wall to wrongfoot goalkeeper Gabriel and go into the bottom left corner. Fiorentina all but sealed the game in the 73rd when Gabriel pushed Joaquin’s cross straight at Borja Valero,who tapped it into an empty net.
This squad is really making the most out of all its resources, Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. It was a very difficult game because apart from anything else both teams could have been nervous after the last round of matches. But we managed to control the game.