Marchisio double downs Milan as Juve go top

Rome: A late brace from Claudio Marchisio sent Juventus back alongside Udinese at the top of Serie A after deservedly defeating champions AC Milan 2-0 at their atmospheric new arena on Sunday.

The Italy midfielder scored his first with a lucky ricochet with three minutes to go after playing a one-two with Mirko Vucinic before making the game safe in injury time, firing a 25-metre volley through goalkeeper Christian Abbiati`s legs.

"We deserved to score a long time before," Juve coach Antonio Conte told Italy`s Sky Sports TV. "Our intensity and approach were brilliant. We dominated possession, which was very important against a side like Milan, but the best thing that came from tonight was the way we played as a team."

The once mighty Turin side, seventh the last two terms, are unbeaten under new boss Conte with three wins and two draws.

"I`m not looking too far ahead," added the ex-Juve player. "The only promise I will give is to make the team competitive because Juve deserve to be challenging among the best."

Earlier on Sunday, Udinese beat Bologna 2-0, while 2-0 victories for Cagliari and Palermo over Lecce and Siena helped the island teams join Napoli within a point of the leaders.

A Sebastian Giovinco brace helped Parma beat Genoa 3-1 and Lazio grabbed the three points at Fiorentina thanks to a late Miloslav Klose header in a 2-1 win.

Encouraged by a noisy crowd, Juventus edged a fast-paced opening quarter with ex-Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo coming closest with two trademark long-range swervers that Abbiati had to watch closely.

Juve`s Vucinic, playing as the lone striker in Conte`s 4-5-1 formation, came close to giving the home side the lead with two sublime pieces of skill just after the half hour mark.

First, on 33 minutes, the Montenegrin had Abbiati scrambling to his left to save after turning sharply in the box and fizzing a right-foot shot towards the corner.

Then, three minutes later, the ex-AS Roma man brought the Turin crowd to their feet as he killed the ball 20 metres out and bent a dipping shot against the underside of the Milan bar.

With the champions struggling to contain the inspired forward, Vucinic`s next trick was to shift the ball onto his favoured right foot and fire a raking drive just wide of the upright as Juve pressed for the all-important first goal.

Gianluigi Buffon came to Juve`s rescue six minutes after the restart, stretching out his giant hand to turn aside Boateng`s angled volley as a more aggressive Milan attempted to up the pace.

Vucinic threatened again on 67 minutes after latching onto a misplaced Mark van Bommel backpass but the lightning fast Thiago Silva recovered to save the Dutchman`s blushes.

Juventus continued to dominate and Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal saw two long-range efforts flash wide as the pace slowed with a quarter of an hour to go.

On 80 minutes Vucinic thought he had won it but could only hold his head in his hands as his shot from just outside the box bounced the wrong side of the post.

But the Bianconeri`s luck changed dramatically in the final stages as Marchisio, running on to Vucinic`s pass, deflected Daniele Bonera`s clearance into the net on 87 minutes.

With seconds remaining Milan`s Kevin Prince Boateng, who had already been booked for dangerous play, was giving his marching orders for catching Giorgio Chiellini with his hand before Marchisio compounded the champions` misery.

"This was our worst performance of the year," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "We didn`t play at the right rhythm and gave the ball away too much. We played badly both in defence and attack.

"We have to improve and fortunately there`s now a break next week that will help us regroup."

Goals from Mehdi Benatia and Antonio Di Natale sealed Udinese`s win.

Moroccan defender Benatia opened the scoring with a rare goal on 29 minutes, poking the ball home from a corner before striker Di Natale settled the contest with a 72nd-minute penalty to give Udinese 11 points from five games.

Promoted Novara and Catania played out a six-goal thriller in the early kick off with Alejandro Gomez equalising for the Sicilians in injury time after second-half goals from two ex-Catania players Takayuki Morimoto and Jeda had looked like giving the hosts the win.

In Saturday`s games, Napoli defeated Inter Milan 3-0 at the San Siro while Roma recorded their second straight victory, beating Atalanta 3-1.

Bureau Report

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