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Juventus survive scare to beat Benevento; Napoli held at Chievo

Juventus survive scare to beat Benevento; Napoli held at Chievo

Juventus overcame an early scare to edge winless Benevento, thanks to second-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado.
Juventus overcame an early scare to edge winless Benevento, thanks to second-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado.

Juventus survived a scare as they came from behind to beat Serie A’s bottom club Benevento 2-1 at home on Sunday.

The win moves the defending champions to within a point of leaders Napoli, who were held to a 0-0 draw at Chievo.

The visitors, who are rooted to the foot of the table after losing all of their league games this season, shocked the Allianz Stadium crowd as they broke the deadlock in the first half when Amato Ciciretti’s free kick found the bottom corner.

But a dominant Juve remained calm and netted twice in the second period to secure all three points, with Gonzalo Higuain and Juan Cuadrado getting on the scoresheet.

Juve started brightly and were unlucky not to take the lead in the early stages, with Douglas Costa hitting the woodwork twice in three first-half minutes.

The Brazilian first had his 13th-minute cross turned onto the post by visiting goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli before clattering the bar shortly after.

But it was basement club Benevento who drew first blood in the 19th minute when Ciciretti sent his curling free-kick into the corner of Wojciech Szczesny’s net.

The hosts threw everything at Benevento as they searched for a leveller but the champions could not find a way past the impressive Brignoli in the first half, with Paulo Dybala and Cuadrado among those to be denied before the break.

Juve flew out of the traps in the second half and levelled things up 12 minutes after the interval when Higuain fired in his fifth goal in four games in all competitions after Blaise Matuidi had headed Mattia De Sciglio’s cross into his path.

And after another period of intense pressure, Juve scored again eight minutes later when Cuadrado nodded in after getting on the end of Alex Sandro’s deep cross.

The home side pushed for a third in the closing exchanges but Brignoli was again on hand to keep out substitute Rodrigo Bentancur in added time.

Juventus celebrate Juan Cuadrado's winning goal.
Juan Cuadrado scored the winner for Juventus against Benevento to close the gap on Napoli.

Juve climb above Inter Milan into second in the table after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Torino in Sunday’s early kick-off.

Eder’s late goal maintained Inter’s unbeaten record this season but they are a point behind current leaders Napoli having played a game more.

Iago Falque had opened the scoring for mid-table Torino in the second half with a brilliant solo effort.

Matias Vecino nearly won it for the hosts at San Siro with two minutes left when his 25-yard strike rattled the crossbar.

In-form Inter, who had won five of their previous six games, were expected to maintain their unbeaten record but struggled to find a rhythm against the dogged visitors.

Fourth-placed Lazio‘s home match against Udinese was postponed because of heavy rain in the Italian capital.

No new date for the fixture has been announced.

Both teams warmed up as normal under the torrential downpour but, minutes before the match was scheduled to kick off on Sunday afternoon, referee Luca Banti carried out a pitch inspection with both team captains.

After seeing that the ball barely bounced on the waterlogged pitch, Banti decided to delay the match and carry out another inspection half an hour later.

But the rain continued to fall and the match was eventually called off.

Roma moved above Sampdoria into fifth place with a 4-2 win at Fiorentina.

Gerson opened the scoring for the visitors after just five minutes, only for Jordan Veretout to cancel out that early strike four minutes later. Gerson regained the lead for Roma on the half-hour mark, but Giovanni Simeone then struck to see the two sides go in level at the break.

Roma, who beat Premier League champions Chelsea 3-0 in the Champions League in midweek, then took control in the second half, with goals from Kostas Manolas and Diego Perotti securing the three points for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side.

Hellas Verona remain in the relegation zone after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Cagliari. Bruno Zuculini gave the visitors the lead after only six minutes, but goals from Luca Ceppitelli and Paolo Farago ensured the away side remain in the bottom three.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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