Football: Juve flying as Anelka starts on bench

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.

Former France international Anelka, just brought in from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua on a five-month deal, 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.

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.

Inter Milan, three points ahead of their city rivals, were later in action at rock-bottom Siena.