09.03.2014 14:24 - in: Serie A S

      Asamoah strike preserves imperious home record

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      The Ghanaian’s second goal of the season maintains the Bianconeri’s 100 per cent home record in Serie A with this afternoon’s 1-0 win over upcoming Europa League rivals Fiorentina

      A Kwadwo Asamoah goal just before the break enabled the Bianconeri to record their 14th consecutive Serie A victory at Juventus Stadium in this afternoon’s meeting with upcoming Europa League rivals Fiorentina.

      The Ghanaian pounced three minutes ahead of the interval to cap a dominant first half in which the hosts fashioned several opportunities to make their pressure tell.

      Vincenzo Montella’s men rallied after the break and could have drawn level when substitute Ryder Matos headed against the crossbar from point-blank range, but the Bianconeri held on to record a deserved triumph.  

      The result places Juventus 14 points clear of nearest challengers Roma, who face the first of their two games in hand when they take on Rafael Benitez’s Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo this evening.

      Accompanied by glorious spring sunshine at Juventus Stadium, the Bianconeri, featuring three changes from last weekend’s success at the San Siro, began with a spring in their step, forcing a number of early corners as the Viola came increasingly under the cosh during a purposeful start.

      Pulling the strings at the heart of midfield in place of the suspended Andrea Pirlo was Claudio Marchisio, who displayed an impressive variety of passing in his attempts to prise the Viola backline open.

      In full command of possession against their Europa League last 16 opponents, Juventus gathered increasing momentum and could have gone in front when Arturo Vidal cut back for Stephan Lichtsteiner in the area on 15 minutes, only for the Swiss full-back to skew his left-footed shot wide from a promising position.

      Joining Marchisio in providing plenty of drive from midfield was Kwadwo Asamoah, who had two chances in quick succession to open the scoring ahead of the half-hour mark.

      His first, a left-footed half volley after the ball had fallen kindly for him on the edge of the box, took a deflection before being gratefully palmed away by Neto, while the second, an attempt from a similar position, rolled harmlessly out of play.

      Not one to miss out on the action, Paul Pogba also went close to fashioning a decent opportunity for the Bianconeri to take the lead, controlling Andrea Barzagli’s inviting cross to perfection before executing a side-footed effort which passed over the crossbar.

      Fiorentina, who have recently struggled in attack due to the absence of top scorer Giuseppe Rossi and the lack of match fitness displayed by returning summer signing Mario Gomez, looked to the pace of Juan Cuadrado as their main outlet on the break, but the Colombian winger remained well-marshalled throughout by a diligent Asamoah.

      In fact, it was the Ghanaian’s dominance in this particular duel which led to Juventus taking a deserved lead on 42 minutes. Skipping inside Cuadrado and switching to his right foot, Asamoah unleashed a strong effort which took a deflection and looped over a helpless Neto for his second goal of the season.

      Looking to reignite their hopes of Champions League qualification after claiming just one point from their previous three games, Fiorentina started the second half with added impetus and immediately saw a Modibo Diakité effort ruled out for offside.

      Yet Juventus remained unfazed by the Viola’s improvement and dug deep to resist their attempts to edge closer to Gigi Buffon, instead limiting them to long-range efforts from Juan Vargas and substitute Rafal Wolski which failed to find the target.

      One attempt that could have yielded an equaliser came from second-half substitute Matos, who saw his instinctive close-range header bounce back off the crossbar with 12 minutes remaining.

      But the Bianconeri maintained their resolve to record a fifth successive clean sheet in all competitions and grind out a success that will give them added confidence when welcoming the Viola back to Juventus Stadium for Thursday’s Europa League first leg encounter.

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