In a match devoid of much goalmouth action, a scrappy goal from the first-half substitute was enough to secure all three points for the Turin outfit and keep the pressure on MilanJuventus produced a controlled display to overcome Lecce 1-0 at the Via Del Mare Stadium and keep up with Milan at the top of the Serie A.
Substitute Alessandro Matri's close range header in the 27th minute proved to be enough for the visitors, who never looked in any real danger despite the efforts of their beleaguered hosts, who remain rooted to the foot of the table.
The first opportunity of the contest fell to the home side, as Guillermo Giacomazzi found himself unmarked from Christian Obodo’s free kick, but his attempt on goal was struck within the grasp of Gianluigi Buffon.
However, despite some encouraging play from Serie A’s last place side, it was Juventus who would strike first in the 27th minute. Mirko Vucinic’s low shot forced Massimiliano Benassi to parry and Matri, on only four minutes earlier after an injury to Fabio Quagliarella, reacted quickest to the rebound to nod the Turin outfit into the lead.
Juventus began to dictate proceedings, holding nearly two-thirds of possession in the opening period. However, Buffon still had to be alert to tip away a rasping drive from David Di Michele from outside the area deep in first-half stoppage time.
Antonio Conte’s men almost doubled their advantage seconds after the restart when Andrea Pirlo released Claudio Marchisio into the area, but Benassi was on hand to thwart the midfielder’s finish.
Lecce were having a tough time creating anything meaningful after the break, but nearly managed an equaliser shortly before the hour mark. A three on three counter attack saw Di Michele completely miscue a shot from an unmarked position 10 yards from goal, before Leonardo Bonucci blocked Luis Muriel’s goal-bound effort at full stretch.
Juventus had further chances for a second as the match reached its closing stages. Arturo Vidal disappointingly looped a shot over Benassi’s goal in the 76th minute after a great feed by Marchisio, before Vucinic flashed a low drive inches wide of the far post two minutes later.
However, they were given a scare with six minutes to go, as Christian Pasquato’s shot flew just wide after a great cross by Djamel Mesbah. It proved to be the closest that the hosts would get to levelling the scores, and Matri fired wide on a late counter-attack as Conte’s men came away with the win.
The result sees Juventus into second place, level with leaders Milan on 37 points. Lecce meanwhile stay bottom of the standings with nine points, three points behind their nearest rivals Cesena.