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Juventus 3 Fiorentina 1: Juve leave it late

Resurgent Juventus climbed into Serie A’s top four as Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala both struck late to secure a 3-1 win over second-placed Fiorentina.

The visitors were searching for their first league win in Turin since 2008 and made the ideal start when Josip Ilicic put them in front from the penalty spot after only three minutes.

Juventus restored parity almost immediately, however, as Juan Cuadrado came back to haunt his former side with a fine headed finish.

And, having created the better chances over the course of the 90 minutes, Massimiliano Allegri’s men duly secured a deserved sixth successive league victory when Mandzukic rifled home from close range on 80 minutes and Dybala added a third in stoppage time.

Victory for Fiorentina would have seen them close the gap on leaders Inter to just a point, but instead they slumped to what was their first defeat in seven games.

The game could hardly have started more dramatically, with many home fans still filing into the stands when Fiorentina took the lead.

Just three minutes had elapsed when Giorgio Chiellini was adjudged to have tripped Federico Bernardeschi in the box.

The decision looked decidedly soft but the same could not be said of the resulting penalty, which was blasted home by Ilicic.

The visitors, however, were to enjoy their advantage for only three minutes.

Patrice Evra’s deep cross from the left found Cuadrado unmarked and the on-loan Chelsea man bagged his second goal of the season with a looping header.  

Juventus really should have hit the front on 14 minutes when Mandzukic played Dybala in, but the in-form Argentinian fired straight at the advancing Ciprian Tatarusanu.

The frenetic pace set in the opening exchanges barely dipped throughout the course of a pulsating first half, with both sides happy to flood men forward at every opportunity.

The hosts went close again on 25 minutes as Dybala’s goalbound shot was blocked by a cluster of defenders and, shortly before the break, Paul Pogba blazed over after more fine approach work from the impressive Evra.

If the first half was breathless, the second was decidedly fractious, with both sides committing a string of niggly fouls in the early stages and Pogba and Borja Valero both picking up yellow cards.

But it was Juventus who continued to look the more likely and they carved out another opportunity just short of the hour mark, with Dybala’s left-foot strike flashing inches wide of Tatarusanu’s right post.

Mandzukic then failed to keep his header down after rising highest to meet a free-kick launched into the box by Dybala.

The Croatian made amends moments later, however, claiming his fouth goal in six games by gleefully firing into the roof of the net after Tatarusanu had parried Dybala’s original effort into his path.

And Fiorentina’s tiring defence was undone again at the death as Dybala calmly beat two men before slotting home his ninth goal of the season.

Sun 13 Dec, 2015
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