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Rediff.com  » Sports » Juventus close in on title, Napoli win thriller

Juventus close in on title, Napoli win thriller

March 31, 2013 09:02 IST

Juventus moved a step closer to a second successive Serie A title after winning 2-1 in a pulsating "derby of Italy" at Inter Milan on Saturday, while Edinson Cavani came off the bench to inspire Napoli to a thrilling 5-3 win at Torino.

A superb long-range Fabio Quagliarella strike after three minutes and a tap in from Alessandro Matri on the hour were just enough for Juve to beat a determined Inter, who briefly levelled the scores on 54 minutes through Rodrigo Palacio.

Juventus' players celebrate"It was a game played at a great pace right from the start and it's an important win for us. Now we can think about Bayern," Juventus striker Matri told Sky Italia as he looked ahead to Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Bayern Munich.

"We can't relax until we're mathematically certain of winning (the scudetto), but today we sent a signal out that we're still concentrated on the league."

Quagliarella gave champions Juve an early lead against Inter with a stunning long-range strike that dipped and swerved over a stationary Samir Handovic in the Inter goal.

Palacio gave Inter fans hope they might let Napoli back into the title race when in the 54th minute he raced onto Antonio Cassano's smart pass and rolled home an easy finish.

But Matri regained the lead only six minutes later when he met a Quagliarella cut back from the byline to tap in from close range and move Juve a step closer to what looks like an inevitable title.

Second-place Napoli maintained their feint title hopes thanks to two goals from Cavani and an exceptional Blerim Dzemaili hat-trick.

Cavani, a late substitute, snatched an incredible win for Napoli, who came back from 3-2 down to win with three goals in 10 exciting second-half minutes.

They are now on 59 points, nine behind leaders Juventus.

Inter, who had Esteban Cambiasso sent off in injury time for a rash tackle on Sebastian Giovinco, remain on 47 points and drop down to sixth after a 2-1 win against fellow European hopefuls Catania saw Lazio move above them into fifth place.

AC Milan briefly moved second after beating Chievo Verona 1-0 through Riccardo Montolivo's 25th-minute tap in after a Mario Balotelli free kick rebounded to him.

Massimiliano Allegri's side are third on 57 points, two behind Napoli.

A Mauricio Pinilla brace helped Cagliari comfortably beat Champions League-chasing Fiorentina 2-0 at an empty Is Arenas, once again closed to the public for safety reasons. Second-from-bottom Palermo were the big winners after Josip Ilicic and Fabrizio Miccoli did the damage in their 2-0 home win against AS Roma.

Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters

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