MILAN (Reuters) – Relentless Juventus made it 15 wins and a draw in their 16 Serie A matches so far with a 1-0 win at Torino while Napoli won 1-0 at Cagliari to stay eight points behind.
Here are five talking-points from Serie A’s weekend matches:
After ending a 10-match goal drought last week, Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone scored for the second game in a row in the 3-1 win over Empoli only to spoil it with his celebration.
The Argentine, whose poor run at one point led to him being dropped, put his finger over his lips in a gesture which appeared to be aimed at Fiorentina supporters.
“I wasn’t angry with the fans but with myself,” he said. “It had been so long since I last scored, I suffered a robbery and I’ve had some difficult moments on a personal level.
“I apologise to the fans. I wanted to celebrate the way I always do but my anger got the better of me.”
Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli added: “I would have preferred a different celebration. Simeone’s goal was important for his confidence and as a reminder of his quality. He scored so many goals last season and he will do so again this time. He’s had a difficult time but he’s putting it behind him.”
Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo did not hold back in his praise of Fabio Quagliarella after the 35-year-old scored for the sixth league game in a row in the 2-0 win over Parma.
“He should be put on UNESCO’s World Heritage list,” he said. “Quagliarella is immortal. There really are no more words to say about him.”
One of the most remarkable aspects of Juventus’ season is how unremarkable many of their performances have been, and Saturday’s 1-0 win at smaller neighbours Torino was another case of them winning without playing particularly well. Torino had the better of the first hour, had two penalty appeals turned down but then gifted Juve a penalty which was converted by Cristiano Ronaldo.
One week ago, Juventus beat Inter Milan by the same score when the visitors could easily have won the match. Other matches where they have scraped through were at Empoli, where they came from behind with two second-half goals to win 2-1, and at Frosinone where they left it until the last 10 minutes to win 2-0.
“The lads interpreted the game well and waited for the right moment to strike. I can have no complaints whatsoever,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Not to be outdone, Napoli also seem to be getting into the habit of scraping results on the road. For the second away game in a row, a late goal from Arkadiusz Milik gave them a 1-0 win in a difficult match, this time against Cagliari. It was the ideal way to bounce back after the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday which dumped them out of the Champions League.
“The Liverpool defeat was a big blow, but we reacted well before this evening’s match,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“Napoli is a club which is not influenced by a defeat or by a win. This is a team with good prospects and we are doing very well, but in my view can do far better. We are very competitive.”
GENOABAFFLED BY LACK OF VARREVIEW
One of the most common criticisms of the VAR system in Serie A is that referees do not use it enough and Genoa coach Cesare Prandelli was the latest to complain over an incident late in their 3-2 defeat at AS Roma.
Genoa claimed that forward Goran Pandev was pushed by Alessandro Florenzi as he went up for a header but their appeals were ignored.
“It was a blatant penalty and I don’t understand why the incident wasn’t reviewed,” said Prandelli. “It’s strange, because from the bench the push was really clear.”
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)