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Juve continue title march while Roma beat Napoli

Roma-fansA fourth straight Italian Serie A title is Juventus’ for the taking after they beat Empoli 2-0 on Saturday night to establish a 14-point advantage at the top of the table with nine games of the season remaining.

Carlos Tevez opened the scoring shortly before the interval and Roberto Pereyra added a second in stoppage time as the Bianconeri responded to wins from Roma and Lazio to restore a seemingly unassailable lead at the top of the standings.

They also had goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to thank for making several fine interventions in the second half when Juve dropped their intensity, saving their batteries for a trip to Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia in midweek and the UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash with Monaco a week after.

Roma strengthened their grip on second place thanks to a 1-0 win over Napoli which puts nine points between the two sides in the standings. Miralem Pjanic’s 15th-minute goal was enough to earn Rudi Garcia’s men all three points, although they had to survive a storm at the Stadio Olimpico as Napoli pushed in vain for an equaliser.

Lazio kept the heat on Roma, though, by clinching a seventh consecutive league win, 3-1 at ten-man Cagliari. Miroslav Klose put the Roman outfit ahead in the 31st minute only for Marco Sau to pull Cagliari level four minutes into the second half. Lucas Biglia put the visitors back in front on the hour from the penalty spot after Lorenzo Crisetig brought substitute Keita down in the area.

Inter Milan left the San Siro to a deafening chorus of boos from the home fans after they were held to a 1-1 draw by rock-bottom Parma on Saturday. Fredy Guarin gave Inter the lead in the 25th minute, but Andi Lila levelled just before half-time.

Substitute Davide Succi equalised nine minutes from time as Cesena hit back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Hellas Verona. The hosts appeared to be cruising to victory after two goals from Luca Toni and a third from Juanito Gomez but relegation-threatened Cesena hit back with three strikes in the last 20 minutes.

Substitute Carlos Carbonero scored the visitors’ first and Franco Brienza’s fantastic free-kick made it 3-2 with 13 minutes left. Succi then pulled his team level as Cesena stunned the crowd in the Marc’ Antonio Bentegodi stadium.

AC Milan picked up their first win away from home since mid-October, beating Palermo 2-1 at the Stadio Renzo Barbera. Alessio Cerci gave Filippo Inzaghi’s men the lead after 37 minutes, but a Paulo Dybala penalty brought the hosts level in the 72nd minute.

Jeremy Menez restored Milan’s lead ten minutes later, earning them all three points and keeping their hopes alive of qualifying for Europe next season. Alessandro Diamanti and Mohamed Salah’s quick-fire goals gave Fiorentina a 2-0 win over Sampdoria, while Fabio Quagliarella and Kamil Glik gave Torino a 2-1 win over Atalanta, with Mauricio Pinilla pulling one back for the strugglers.

Torino and Atalanta both ended the game with ten men after Pinilla and Migjen Basha were shown red cards for fighting. Cyril Thereau earned a 1-1 draw for Udinese after Sebastian De Maio put hosts Genoa in front, while Sassulo held on for a 1-0 win over Chievo after Domenico Berardi scored from the spot in the first half.