Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic (right) celebrates with teammate Paulo Dybala after scoring during match against Fiorentina in Turin. (AFP)
Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala struck late as champions Juventus continued their Serie A fightback with a stunning 3-1 win over Fiorentina in Turin on Sunday.
Juventus, claiming their sixth consecutive league win following a disastrous start to the season, moved up to fourth place at the expense of Roma to sit six points behind leaders Inter Milan.
Days after losing first place in their Champions League group to Manchester City following a 1-0 defeat at Sevilla, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said: “The win was important because we’re coming off the back of an intense few weeks in which we’ve played big games and got some valuable wins.
“We’re still behind, but there’s 22 games and 66 points left this season.” Inter had stretched their lead over Fiorentina to four points with a 4-0 away win at Udinese on Saturday and although La Viola remain in second place Paulo Sousa’s title challengers are now four points off the pace.
Fiorentina’s reverse means they have now lost to three of their direct scudetto rivals—Napoli, Roma and Juventus, having stunned Inter 4-1 at the San Siro in late September.
But Sousa said: “Defensively, Juve were strong. We tried to impose our game, although in the second half we were perhaps a little less threatening.
“But hats off to our opponents. They kept on pressing us.”
Napoli remain third, also four points off the pace, after being held to a scoreless draw by Roma, who dropped to fifth to sit seven points adrift.
During a thrilling encounter at the San Paolo, Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain were all denied by Roma ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny, while Daniele De Rossi saw a goal chalked off for the visitors after a questionable decision on the ball going out of play.
“If that was a boxing match they would have ended up throwing in the towel,” said Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri.
“We had seven chances on goal to their none, we totally dominated possession and we didn’t give anything away. Roma came here to defend.”
Historically, Juventus have been Fiorentina’s biggest tormentors in Serie A, La Viola losing 70 times to the Turin giants while conceding a club record of 247 goals.
This year’s vintage from Florence, however, has shown title-winning potential, Sousa’s men losing only three times before their trip to Turin.
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