Juventus' lead cut to 1 point after 2-1 loss at Fiorentina

MILAN (AP) " Fiorentina coach Paulo Sousa got his tactics spot on as he steered his side to a 2-1 win over Juventus, which saw the Serie A leader's advantage slashed to only one point on Sunday.

Juventus had been seven points clear of second-placed Roma after beating the Giallorossi 1-0 on Dec. 17 and was seemingly on an unstoppable march to a record sixth straight Serie A title.

"Every match should be the big match for Fiorentina " with that attitude almost every team would struggle to beat us," Sousa said. "I don't think there is any doubt about the fact Fiorentina deserved this win.

"Beating the best gives you an extraordinary sensation and that should encourage us to continue to believe in our project."

Juventus has played a match less than most other teams due to the Italian Super Cup, which it lost on penalties to AC Milan.

"When you lose, you never feel good," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "We had an awful first half, while we did better in the second and also had chances to equalize.

"They were very aggressive, but we made it easier for them with our mistakes ... Against Juventus every team plays the game of its life. We have to remain calm."

Fiorentina dominated from the start and Juventus was given an early warning when Matias Vecino, who had already seen an effort saved by Gianluigi Buffon, hit the left post in the 10th minute.

Fiorentina took a deserved lead in the 37th as Nikola Kalinic latched onto Federico Bernardeschi's through ball and slotted into the far bottom corner from a tight angle.

The hosts doubled their advantage 10 minutes into the second half as a throw-in found Milan Badelj 30 yards (meters) out and he launched the ball toward Chiesa who attempted to meet it with an acrobatic effort as it bounced in. It was unclear whether Chiesa got a touch or not but his movement was enough to confuse Buffon.

The league's official website, which had initially awarded the goal to Chiesa, later credited it to Badelj.

Juventus reduced the gap three minutes later when Sami Khedira floated in a cross from the left and it came off opponents Stefano Sturaro and Maximiliano Olivera. Gonzalo Higuain was on hand to slot it home.

Juventus almost leveled in the 80th but Higuain's header was stopped by the legs of Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu and Giorgi Chiellini's attempt from the rebound was blocked before the ball was finally cleared.

Paulo Dybala also blazed over the bar from a good position.

It was only Fiorentina's second home win over Juventus since 1998.

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NAPOLI 3, PESCARA 1

With Diego Maradona in Naples to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his side's first title win, Marek Hamsik closed in on the Napoli great's goal scoring record.

Maradona is still revered in Naples after leading the team to its only two league titles in 1987 and 1990 and that was evident when he was greeted by more than 100 fans upon his arrival in the city on Saturday night.

Napoli struggled to get past a well-organized Pescara side in the first half but broke the deadlock immediately after halftime as Lorenzo Tonelli headed in a free kick.

It was the defender's second goal in as many matches after sitting on the bench for the first half of the season.

Napoli doubled its lead less than two minutes later as Hamsik volleyed in a brilliant chipped pass from Piotr Zielinski. The Slovakia international needs just nine more to equal Maradona's record of 115 goals for Napoli.

The home side was in full control and had chances to extend its advantage before Dries Mertens scored five minutes from time following a one-two with Allan.

Pescara netted a late consolation as Gianluca Caprari converted a penalty in stoppage time after Elseid Hysaj fouled Alexandru Mitrita.

Third-placed Napoli moved four points behind Juventus.

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UDINESE 0, ROMA 1

Roma recorded another slender win to move to within a point of Juventus.

It was Roma's third 1-0 win in its past four victories.

Radja Nainggolan scored the only goal, in the 12th minute, volleying Kevin Strootman's ball over the top into the bottom left corner.

Edin Dzeko should have extended Roma's lead six minutes later but he blazed his spot kick over the bar after Marco Davide Faraoni had been penalized for handball.

Francesco Totti came off the bench shortly after the hour, making it a 25th consecutive year that he has played in Serie A.

The 40-year-old almost set up Roma's second with his first touch as he spooned the ball toward Nainggolan, who just failed to meet it six yards from goal.

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OTHER MATCHES

Lazio fought back to beat Atalanta 2-1 to remain a point behind Napoli and extend its advantage over both Milan sides to four points.

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic headed in the equalizer in first-half stoppage time after Andrea Petagna had opened the scoring in the 21st.

Ciro Immobile converted the winning penalty in the 68th after being tripped by former Lazio goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

Sassuolo and Cagliari both won 4-1, beating Palermo and Genoa respectively.

Empoli missed a penalty in a 0-0 draw at Sampdoria.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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