23.03.2014 22:49 - in: Serie A S

    Tevez on target as Juve march on

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    The Argentine hitman pounces on 59 minutes to settle a closely-fought clash with Catania at the Stadio Angelo Massimino

    A solitary second-half Carlos Tevez strike proved enough to resolve this evening’s gritty clash against Catania and regain the Bianconeri’s 14-point lead over nearest challengers Roma at the summit of Serie A.  

    A combative yet inert first 45 minutes then gave way to a more flowing affair after the break, with Tevez capitalising on good work from Dani Osvaldo to fire the visitors in front just shy of the hour mark.

    With Catania down to 10 men for the final half an hour due to the red card shown to Gonzalo Bergessio, Juventus fashioned further chances to put the game to bed but will be more than happy to settle for the three points and clean sheet – their fifth consecutive defensive shutout in all competitions - gained from a notoriously testing venue.          

    Featuring four changes from Thursday’s Europa League win over Catania, Juventus made a bright start to proceedings, forcing a couple of corners as they aimed to dampen the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd by snatching an early goal.

    With Catania fighting for their lives at the bottom of Serie A, Rolando Maran called for an “intense” display from his charges when previewing the encounter yesterday - and the boss got his wish as both teams set about each other with verve during a feisty introduction.

    It was Andrea Pirlo who was given the first opportunity to reproduce his recent set-piece heroics when Carlos Tevez was felled on the edge of the box with nine minutes played, only for his shot from 25 yards to sail wide of the target.

    Catania then rallied and enjoyed a period of pressure in and around the Bianconeri penalty area, with a brave Martin Caceres block on Fabián Monzón’s rasping drive typifying the battling spirit that has become synonymous with Antonio Conte’s Juventus.  

    This spirit was also demonstrated on the touchline, where the exuberance and passion shown by both managers led to them being sent to observe the rest of the game from the stands.

    One opportunity that almost came to fruition, on 33 minutes, saw Andrea Pirlo float a fine first-time pass into the feet of Dani Osvaldo, whose audacious backheel dropped just short of Mariano Andujar’s far post.

    The Italian frontman was again at the thick of the action early inside the first half, pouncing on a loose ball inside the area before executing a spectacular acrobatic effort which flashed over Andujar’s crossbar.

    In spite of Osvaldo leading the way in terms of attempts, it was in fact his unselfish attitude in bringing team-mates into play which led to the Bianconeri breaking the deadlock on 59 minutes.

    Profiting from his knock-down was Tevez, who strode forward before cracking a low right-footed shot across goal which crept in the far corner despite Andujar’s efforts to prevent it from crossing the line.

    With Fernando Llorente and Kwadwo Asamoah providing fresh legs from the bench, Juventus’ quest for the three points received a welcome boost with just over 20 minutes remaining when Bergessio was given his marching orders for a second yellow card.

    Not content to settle for their one-goal lead, Conte’s men continued to push forward. Pirlo, thriving in the increased space available to him in the middle of the park, almost scored his third free-kick in the space of a week, only for Andujar to tip the ball away as it angled menacingly towards the top corner.

    Arturo Vidal and Tevez had chances to bolster the visitors’ lead in the dying stages but, after four minutes of added time, Antonio Damato’s whistle confirmed a precious three points which continue the Bianconeri’s march towards a historic third consecutive Scudetto.

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