Juve survive Palermo battle as Milan rout Torino
MILAN (AFP) –
Juventus had a Stephan Lichsteiner strike early in the second half to thank for a cagey 1-0 win away to Palermo on Antonio Conte’s return to the touchline as AC Milan dominated a six-goal thriller away to Torino on Sunday.
However it was a nervous win for the champions, who despite dominating the second half — when Palermo’s Swiss defender Michel Morganella was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 75th minute — failed to convert a number of scoring chances.
Swiss midfielder Lichsteiner settled Juve’s nerves when he broke the deadlock on 50 minutes although most of the work had been done by striker Mirko Vucinic, who latched on to Andrea Pirlo‘s long ball and sent Lichsteiner through to beat Albanian ‘keeper Samir Ujkani.
Juve were frustrated by later misses from Vucinic and defender Leonardo Bonucci, who was through on goal but ended up being shown a yellow card for simulation after he had been tackled by Ujkani, but finally managed to take all three points.
The match signalled Conte’s return to the touchline after he served a four-month ban for his alleged role in a match-fixing affair while at former club Siena.
He admitted: “It was a painful four months, but I’ve come out of this stronger.
“Although I’ve been working all week with the team, the excitement of the game is something that you can’t replace.
“But the team went about their jobs with the help of a great coaching team who stepped up to the plate and have been extraordinary in these past four months.”
After going a goal down to Argentinian Mario Santana, Milan scored four through Robinho, Antonio Nocerino, Giampaolo Pazzini and Stephan El Shaarawy before Rolando Bianchi scored a late consolation for the Granate.
Milan’s sixth win leaves them seventh in Serie A on 24 points, 14 behind champions Juventus.
Their win, however, was tempered by the loss of Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong for the season after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon injury, according to coach Massimiliano Allegri.
De Jong pulled up after Milan had scored their fourth goal and limped off the pitch.
Speaking to Mediaset channel after the game, Allegri said: “The lads have dedicated the victory to Nigel, who unfortunately has suffered a rupted Achilles tendon injury that will see him out for the season.”
Pescara, meanwhile, moved off the bottom of the table thanks to a 2-0 home win over fellow strugglers Genoa.
The Serie A newcomers’ fourth win of the campaign puts them on 14 points, three ahead of new basement side Siena whose 3-1 defeat to Catania was their seventh of the season.
Napoli can restore their two-point deficit to Juventus if they beat Inter however the Partenopei face a determined side which can not afford to slip further behind, especially with Lazio and Roma biting at their heels at only two points adrift.
While Lazio are not in action until Monday the Biancocelesti will be expected to take some reward from their trip to Bologna.
Roma, meanwhile, cemented fifth place on Saturday thanks to a 4-2 win over Fiorentina who sit sixth, also on 29 points with Lazio and Roma.