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Football: Juve flying high as main rivals take a dive

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

With new French recruit Nicolas Anelka in reserve, Juventus went three points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A on Sunday with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Chievo.

Third-placed Lazio lost ground as they went down to Genoa's winner five minutes into stoppage time from on-loan midfielder Marco Rigoni.

Lazio appeared to have escaped after an 82nd minute penalty equaliser from captain Stefano Mauri but Rigoni's late strike saw Genoa snatch a dramatic 3-2 win and move a point above the relegation zone.

Inter Milan failed to take advantage of Lazio's slip as they were also beaten on the road, 3-1 at relegation-threatened Siena.

In four minutes of first-half madness, Nigerian-born Swiss international Innocent Emeghara put the home side in front on 21 minutes before Antonio Cassano swiftly equalised, only for Alessio Sestu to restore Siena's lead on 24 minutes.

Alessandro Rosina then made the points safe with a 55th minute penalty that lifted Siena off the foot of the table above Palermo, who suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Atalanta thanks to goals from Chilean midfielder Carlos Carmona and Argentine German Denis.

Fiorentina gave their chances for Champions League football a boost with a 2-0 win over Parma as goals either side of half-time from evergreen 35-year-old striker Luca Toni and Stevan Jovetic of Montenegro, lifted the team to within one point of fourth-placed Inter.

In Verona, former France international Anelka, just brought in from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua had barely taken his seat on the bench when Antonio Conte's side took a tenth-minute lead through Alessandro Matri, who cracked in a superb volley after good work from Arturo Vidal.

Stephan Lichtsteiner made it 2-0 three minutes before the break when Sebastian Giovinco played him through with a cheeky flick.

Midtable Chievo fought back and Cyril Thereau bagged a consolation seven minutes after the restart with a low drive but Juve held on for the win to move on to 52 points from 23 games to 49 for Napoli, 2-0 winners over Catania on Saturday.

Juve had internationals Claudio Marchisio, Mirko Vucinic, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci suspended but the win was a tonic after Napoli had managed to close down an eight-point gap in recent weeks.

Finally, Bologna came back twice to win 3-2 at Pescara who slip into the drop zone while the visitors climb to sixth from bottom in a key match in the lower half of the table.

Later Sunday, former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was in line for a debut for fifth-placed AC Milan against Udinese following his January transfer window move.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130203/football-juve-flying-high-main-rivals-take-dive