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Juventus edge past Roma to close gap on Serie A leaders Inter Milan

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Dec 2023

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Juventus moved to within two points of Serie A leaders Inter Milan thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Roma.

Adrien Rabiot scored the only goal of the game early in the second half as Massimiliano Allegri’s side took advantage of Inter’s draw at Genoa on Friday to close the gap on their title rivals.

The win maintained Juve’s unbeaten record at home in Serie A this season as they bid to win the Scudetto for the first time since 2020, while the defeat leaves Roma seventh in the table and 17 points off the top.

Jose Mourinho’s side came into the game buoyed by last week’s 2-0 home win against defending champions Napoli and were also boosted by the return of Paulo Dybala, who had missed the last three games due to a thigh injury.

They duly made a bright start at the Allianz Stadium and were unlucky not to take the lead inside four minutes, Bryan Cristante’s well-struck shot taking a deflection off Dusan Vlahovic and slamming into a post as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny could only look on.

Vlahovic was also quickly into the action at the other end, curling a left-footed shot wide and slashing another effort with his other foot off target in quick succession.

Romelu Lukaku was similarly inaccurate for the visitors before Vlahovic finally got an effort on target after turning Diego Llorente on the edge of the area, only to see his shot superbly blocked by Gianluca Mancini.

Vlahovic looked determined to break the deadlock and even attempted a spectacular bicycle kick from outside the area which flew comfortably wide, before Kenan Yildiz produced a more threatening effort after being set free on the counter by Manuel Locatelli.

Dybala went closer still at the other end with an instinctive shot with the outside of his left foot which was inches wide, but an entertaining first half ended goalless thanks to a brilliant intervention from Roma defender Evan Ndicka.

Filip Kostic’s left-foot volley was struck into the ground and beyond goalkeeper Rui Patricio after Roma failed to deal with a long throw into the box, but Ndicka read the situation and cleared the danger with a perfectly-timed diving header.

The deadlock was finally broken within two minutes of the restart, Vlahovic cleverly flicking the ball into the path of Rabiot to allow the France international to beat the advancing Patricio at his near post.

Dybala remained Roma’s best hope of an equaliser and produced a shot on target from just outside the area midway through the second half, but Szczesny was able to make a comfortable save.

Weston McKennie then should have doubled Juve’s lead when he was found six yards out by substitute Federico Chiesa on a swift counter-attack, only for the United States international to shoot straight at Patricio.

Chiesa also had a goal ruled out for offside, but the home side saw out six minutes of added time without too much difficulty to secure all three points.

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