07.04.2014 20:54 - in: Serie A S

    Llorente brace restores eight-point advantage

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    Two first-half goals from the Spaniard enable Juventus to keep nearest challengers Roma at arm’s length with tonight’s 2-0 triumph over Livorno in Turin

    Fernando Llorente struck twice as the Bianconeri reestablished their eight-point lead at the top of the league with this evening’s solid 2-0 win over Livorno at Juventus Stadium.

    Last night’s 3-1 Roma victory over Cagliari meant the pressure was on Antonio Conte’s men to restore their Serie A supremacy, and they did just that with a commanding performance in front of their home supporters.

    A positive opening eventually yielded the goal Juventus deserved when Llorente rolled his marker in the penalty area before guiding a precise left-footed shot into the top corner just past the half-hour mark.

    And the Spaniard doubled his tally a matter of minutes later, connecting with Andrea Pirlo’s corner to head home despite the best efforts of Francesco Bardi to keep the ball from crossing the line.

    Aside from Innocent Emeghara’s early effort inside the first 90 seconds, comfortably repelled by Gigi Buffon, it was all Juventus in a lively opening to the fixture.

    Neat combination play between Llorente and Carlos Tevez saw the latter burst through on goal with six minutes played, Bardi remaining on his toes to block the Argentine’s low strike on goal.

    A number of half-chances went begging before Paul Pogba outmuscled his man to burst into the box and cut back for an unmarked Giorgio Chiellini, only for the defender to clear the crossbar with arguably the hosts’ most promising opportunity in the opening 20 minutes.

    With Emeghara ploughing a lonely furrow up front and Livorno struggling to maintain any significant grip on possession, one way traffic continued to be the order of the day as Juventus poured forward at will.

    This pressure eventually paid off when Llorente received the ball to feet, spun away from his marker and buried an unstoppable left-footed strike into the top corner on 32 minutes.

    Still jubilant after the Spanish forward’s opener, Bianconeri fans were treated to further joy just two minutes later as a Llorente header from Pirlo’s corner proved too hot to handle for Bardi, who failed to keep the ball from wriggling across the line.

    Two almost became three as the clock ticked down towards half-time. Receiving the ball from Kwadwo Asamoah and with the crowd urging him to pull the trigger, Tevez obliged and sent a fine curling shot just past the upright.

    Despite beginning the second half very much in the ascendancy, Juventus adopted a calm approach, electing to work the ball around and bide their time before pouncing on a tiring Amaranto backline.  

    However, Conte’s men had to remain on their guard as the visitors showed they weren’t prepared to lie down just yet, Alfred Duncan drawing an excellent stop from Buffon with a decent effort from range on 58 minutes.

    Now with midweek substitutes Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic on in place of Tevez and Llorente,  Juventus attempted to extend their lead with some late pressure but further goals failed to materialise.

    Andrea Gervasoni’s final whistle sparked celebrations from the home faithful who will be ready to play their part when they return to Juventus Stadium in three days' time for the Bianconeri’s crunch Europa League quarter-final second leg clash with Lyon.

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