Gattuso downs Juve to send Milan clear

A rare Gennaro Gattuso goal sent leaders AC Milan eight points clear in Serie A after they dominated a poor Juventus 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin on Saturday.

Updated: March 06, 2011 13:33 IST
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Milan: A rare Gennaro Gattuso goal sent leaders AC Milan eight points clear in Serie A after they dominated a poor Juventus 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin on Saturday.

The combative midfielder, who is suspended for Wednesday's Champions League clash against Tottenham, struck in the 68th minute, firing under Gianluigi Buffon to cap a splendid week for the Rossoneri who had beaten title-challengers Napoli 3-0 on Monday.

It was Juventus' third defeat on the trot and leaves them languishing in seventh position, seven points off the Champions League places with ten matches to go.

"It's not easy to beat Juve but I thought it was another fine all-round performance," said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri after the club continued their unbeaten start to the year with a seventh win in 11 games.

"We kept hold of the ball, were patient and contained them on the break."

Allegri, who had lined up alongside Gattuso in his playing days, betrayed a flicker of emotion after the midfielder's first goal in three seasons.

"He's actually been close to scoring in recent games," he added. "I'm just happy for him because he doesn't score than often."

Juventus are now 20 points behind Milan in Serie A and worse off than they were last season when Ciro Ferrara was sacked mid-season.

"I'm giving my best," said coach Gigi Delneri. "We played with more energy than against Bologna and Lecce, but I can't deny that we failed to create chances."

The former Sampdoria coach suggested he needed better players brought in.

"Look at Milan today, they brought on (Clarence) Seedorf and Robinho. We need more quality," he added.

Despite being without flu-stricken striker Pato, Alessandro Allegri decided to rest fellow pint-sized Brazilian Robinho, but it was not long before Mathieu Flamini picked out Zlatan Ibrahimovic for a wonderful early chance.

The former Juve player, perhaps surprised by the space he was allowed, spurned the opportunity, side-footing over from six yards.

On the back of two defeats, Juventus looked shorn of confidence and were reduced to pot-shots from distance as Milan dominated possession.

Halfway through the opening period, the leaders wasted another fine chance to take the lead. Kevin Prince Boateng fed the recalled Antonio Cassano, who sold Giorgio Chiellini a dummy but then lifted his finish over the bar from eight yards.

In an increasingly subdued atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico, the remaining highlight of the first half was a nasty-looking coming together between Felipe Melo and Boateng with both players returning to the pitch after receiving lengthy treatment.

With Robinho thrown on for Boateng, Milan continued to push forward in the second period. On 51 minutes Flamini should have done better with a downward header at the back post after a superb cross from Ignazio Abate.

Two minutes later and a viciously swerving 35-yard free kick from Ibrahimovic had Buffon scrambling to his left to keep the ball out.

Just as Juve began to up the tempo, Milan struck. Ibrahimovic chested down a long ball for the onrushing Gattuso who turned inside onto his weaker left foot before shooting under the body of Buffon and into the corner.

Delneri brought on Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alessandro Del Piero but the Rossoneri continued to pose the greater threat with Robinho firing wide when well placed in the dying stages.

Chiellini took a late tumble in the box but Juventus, who had barely had a shot on target the whole game, left the pitch to a chorus of whistles after another sorry performance that must seriously undermine Delneri's job.

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