Juventus make do and Mand

By AFP
Published: February 26, 2017
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Ushering it home: Mandzukic opened the scoring for Juventus in what proved to be a tricky outing for the runaway leaders against Empoli. PHOTO: AFP

Ushering it home: Mandzukic opened the scoring for Juventus in what proved to be a tricky outing for the runaway leaders against Empoli. PHOTO: AFP

MILAN: Mario Mandzukic overcame a wasteful first half to inspire Juventus to a 2-0 home win over Empoli that edged the Turin giants closer to a record sixth straight Serie A title.

Juventus claimed their 22nd win in 26 games to further strength their stranglehold on the title.

Napoli remain third but are now 12 points off the pace after a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Atalanta virtually ended their hopes of challenging for a long-awaited scudetto.

However, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said nothing is won yet. “Absolutely not,” he said when asked if Juve had one hand on the title. “We still have a lot of games to play, Napoli could get to 90 points and Roma 95. We need to win a lot of games and tonight, against Empoli, wasn’t so simple. It took us until the second half to break the deadlock.”

Earlier, a brace from Juventus-bound Mattia Caldara torpedoed Napoli’s scudetto hopes as 10-man Atalanta underlined their growing Euro ambitions in style with a shock 2-0 win at the San Paolo.

Napoli welcomed high-flying Atalanta looking to tighten their grip on the third and last Champions League qualifying spot.

But less than a week after suffering a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the competition, Maurizio Sarri’s men saw a 14-game unbeaten streak ended by their second successive league defeat to Gian Piero Gasperini’s men.

Atalanta’s 16th win moved the Bergamo side up to fourth.

But coach Gian Piero Gasperini played down hopes of trying to qualify for the Champions League. “We have already targeted a place in the Europa League,” he said.

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