MILAN: Champions Juventus overcame conceding a first-minute goal at home to AC Milan to stun their bitter rivals 3-2 and move to within two points of Serie A leaders Roma on Sunday.
Title contenders Napoli had heaped the pressure on Juventus after a 4-0 rout of Livorno which moved Rafael Benitez’s men up to second place in the table.
But after being stunned by Sulley Muntari’s first-minute opener in Turin, Antonio Conte’s men were soon level thanks to Andrea Pirlo’s sublime free kick.
In a pulsating encounter played in torrential rain, Juve upped the pace after the interval when Sebastian Giovinco gave the hosts a 2-1 lead and Giorgio Chiellini added a third following the expulsion of Milan defender Phillip Mexes.
The shine was taken off a convincing win, however, when Muntari struck his second of the match and Juve escaped dropping two precious points when Cristian Zapata saw a bullet header go just over at the death.
It was a combative and at times bad tempered affair and after Mexes was red-carded for manhandling Chiellini in the box at a corner, the Italy defender called for the Frenchman to be harshly sanctioned.
“This kind of thing needs a heavy sanction,” said the Italy defender.
“Some people just won’t learn. When you’re tough and determined, that’s fair enough because at the end of the day you get up from a hard tackle and shake hands. But that is just not football.”
With Roma comfortably on top with 21 points from seven games, Napoli and Juventus are both two points adrift in second and third respectively Inter in fourth.
Roma host Napoli in two weeks’ time following a break for World Cup qualifiers, and Benitez was clearly buoyant with his side’s performance following a 2-0 Champions League defeat to Arsenal last week.
“It was important to get back to winning ways,” said the Spaniard.
The former Chelsea, Liverpool and Valencia manager added: “Roma have won seven out of seven but we’ve won six and drawn one, so we’re on a level playing field.”
Inter, stunned 3-0 at home by Roma on Saturday, are seven points off the lead, five shy of Napoli and Juventus and only one ahead of Verona, who won 4-1 win away to struggling Bologna.
Francesco Totti scored a double in Roma’s rout, and while he was careful not to make mention of the word scudetto, he admitted: “This squad can go far and although the season is long and we will come up against teams that are stronger than us we have to fight for a Champions League place.
Mazzarri, meanwhile, was philosophical after a defeat which he put down to Inter’s failure to take their chances. AFP