ROME - A late Simone Pepe goal earned
Juventus a 1-0 win at Lazio on Monday to keep alive their hopes
of qualifying for Europe.
The deflected strike from the Italian winger in the 87th
minute was tough on fourth-placed Lazio, who dominated the match
but had to play the last nine minutes with 10 men after Cristian
Ledesma was sent off.
The result left Lazio on 60 points with three Serie A
matches to play - one point above AS Roma and Udinese with
seventh-placed Juventus a further three points adrift.
The teams finishing fifth and sixth qualify for the Europa
"It was a satisfying win because Lazio played better," Pepe
told Sky Italia television.
"They didn't allow us to play and we had to defend for long
periods but in the end we showed our spirit and that we are
united as a team."
Lazio coach Edy Reja said his side should have been awarded
a penalty after a challenge by Giorgio Chiellini on Sergio
Floccari midway through the second half.
"There was a clear penalty that would have changed the
game," he said.
"Not only are decisions going against us, we seem to be
having a lot of bad luck at the moment like the deflection on
their goal. But we are still in the Champions League places."
In an opening half controlled by Lazio, two chances in as
many minutes fell to Christian Brocchi.
The midfielder had a volley blocked on 25 minutes before a
bullet header went wide of the post.
The home team continued to press and striker Floccari forced
Gianluigi Buffon into a scrambling save with a low shot six
Juventus, though, had the best first-half opportunity when
Alessandro Matri's eight-metre shot was blocked by the feet of
keeper Fernando Muslera.
Stephan Liechtsteiner then went agonisingly close for Lazio
seven minutes into the second half, his half-volley going just
over the bar.
With 20 minutes to go the home side upped the tempo and
Buffon threw himself to his right to stop a 35-metre piledriver
from Hernanes before holding on to another powerful free kick
from the Brazilian.
Ledesma was sent off in the 81st minute when he received his
second caution of the night for a trip on Felipe Melo.
Pepe then sank Lazio when he controlled a deep cross and his
deflected shot beat Muslera.
On Sunday, AC Milan defeated Bologna 1-0 to go eight points
clear of second-placed Inter Milan and move to the brink of
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