Alvaro Morata strike inches Juventus closer to title

Juventus substitute Alvaro Morata only needed ten minutes and one superb strike in Palermo on Saturday to fire the champions to a 1-0 win, a 14-point lead in Serie A and another step closer to a seemingly inevitable 31st Scudetto.

Reuters| Updated: Mar 15, 2015, 11:48 AM IST
Alvaro Morata strike inches Juventus closer to title

Rome: Juventus substitute Alvaro Morata only needed ten minutes and one superb strike in Palermo on Saturday to fire the champions to a 1-0 win, a 14-point lead in Serie A and another step closer to a seemingly inevitable 31st Scudetto.

Juve`s first triumph away from home in over two months gives them 64 points from 27 games, while second-placed AS Roma, who host Sampdoria on Monday, trail on 50 from 26 games.

"One less win needed to win the league," Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri shrugged in an interview with Sky Sports Italia. "Probably six more victories and a few draws should be enough."

Spanish international Morata came on in the 60th minute, replacing compatriot Fernando Llorente in a match that appeared to be heading towards a goalless stalemate.

Yet 10 minutes later, he received a long pass from Claudio Marchisio, kept defender Sinisa Andelkovic at a distance and rifled home an unstoppable left-foot shot from just outside the area.

"He scored a marvellous goal," Allegri said. "I love 1-0 games. For the second straight time, we finished with a clean sheet. I`m very pleased."

Andrea Barzagli was back in Juve`s starting line-up after playing his first five minutes of the season against Sassuolo on Monday.

The former Palermo defender, playing alongside Italian international team mates Leonardo Bonucci and GiorgioChiellini, looked in good form after the heel injurywhich has sidelined him since last summer`s World Cup.

"It`s very important to have Barzagli back," Allegri beamed. "We`ll see how he feels tomorrow but the first game is usually easier than the second."

Juventus visit Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in the Champions League last 16 second leg, having won the opening match 2-1.

"It`ll be much tougher in Germany," Allegri concluded. "Scoring one goal won`t be enough, we`ll probably need two to advance."

In a match affecting the other end of the table, a late goal by Matias Vecino earned Empoli a 1-1 draw and pushed Cagliari closer to Serie B.

A curled shot by Joao Pedro in the 20th minute allowed the home side to pull ahead but Vecino`s goal with 40 seconds left in stoppage time denied Cagliari manager Zdenek Zeman, in his second stint with the Sardinians, his first home win of the season.

It keeps Cagliari in the drop zone on 21 points, three adrift of 17th placed Atalanta.