x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Buffon is crucial for Juventus

Vicenzo Iaquinta, the Juventus striker, celebrated his call-up to Italy's national squad with a goal. He then took the rest of the afternoon off.

Vincenzo Iaquinta walks past theJuventus coach Claudio Ranieri after his red card. He was booked twice in the space of a minute against Catania on Sunday.
Vincenzo Iaquinta walks past theJuventus coach Claudio Ranieri after his red card. He was booked twice in the space of a minute against Catania on Sunday.

Vicenzo Iaquinta, the Juventus striker, celebrated his surprise call-up to Italy's national squad with a goal after 11 minutes at Catania on Sunday. He then took the rest of the afternoon off. Booked for ripping off his shirt after he headed in Mauro Camoranesi's free-kick, Iaquinta then collected a second caution for a foul a minute later. Juventus, playing with 10 men against Catania's 11 for 78 minutes, still managed to claim the three points with a 2-1 win to lift them back into second place in Serie A, seven points behind Inter Milan. Iaquinta's cameo was merely the first episode in a dramatic contest in Sicily.

Catania's numerical advantage meant a busy afternoon for Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus goal. He made fine saves from Alessandro Potenza and Jorge Martinez, though he might resist reviewing the save that kept Giuseppe Mascara's header out but set up the equaliser for Taka Morimoto. Buffon pushed the ball into the path of the Japanese striker who finished from close-range. Juventus, who lad lost their two previous league games, came back with spirit, seizing the points very late when the substitute Christian Poulsen hooked in from close range in stoppage time after Amauri had met Pavel Nedved's corner.

Juve moved ahead of AC Milan, who drew 1-1 with Reggina at the San Siro. Beneath the top three places, the chasing pack went through various shuffles. Fiorentina maintained their hold on fourth place with a 1-0 win against Lazio, whose form is in a tail-spin. Alberto Gilardino's late goal inflicted their fourth successive defeat. Roma thrashed Genoa 3-0, with goals from Cicincho, a crashing volley from Mirko Vucinic and a late effort from Julio Baptista.

That moved Roma level on points with Genoa in joint-fifth place, a point behind Fiorentina, who go to Genoa next weekend. Just below them, Napoli's aspirations for Champions League football next season suffered a further blow at Palermo. The Sicilians led from the second minute, through Giulio Migliaccio who stretched to meet a Fabrizio Miccoli corner. Miccoli set up their second inside 15 minutes, outpacing Paolo Cannavaro and leaving Fabricio Simplicio with a straightforward finish.

Napoli's brittleness away from their own San Paolo stadium continues to be their undoing. Marek Hamsik pulled a goal back for the visitors before half-time but it remained 2-1. The chief winners of the weekend were Inter, who travelled to Lecce and recorded a comfortable 3-0 win and woke the next day to learn that Milan's Kaka had sustained a foot injury that is likely to prevent him playing in the derby on Sunday.

ihawkey@thenational.ae