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March 30, 2014
• Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
Referee: D. Orsato
• Attendance: 46134
José Callejón 37'
D. Mertens 81'
That is it from me, Tom Webber, for this evening. Have a great night.
Napoli move to with six points of second-placed Roma, but the Giallorossi have a game in hand. Should the club from the capital win that they will reduce Juve's advantage at the top to just eight points. The Scudetto isn't won yet!
FULL TIME - Napoli 2-0 Juventus: The Partenopei end the Bianconeri's 22-game unbeaten run with a deserved victory at San Paolo courtesy of goals from Callejon and Mertens. The Naples outfit made the champions look ordinary this evening, and Conte will be disappointed with that.
90' + 6'
THERE IS THE FINAL WHISTLE! NAPOLI WIN!
90' + 5'
It's getting a bit scrappy in the midfield now as Napoli attempt to hold onto the ball while Juve look to quickly press and then counter.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Arturo Vidal
90' + 3'
Vidal goes down inside the box and claims for a penalty, but he is booked for simulation. Still three minutes to play, and a goal now for the visitors would set up an exceptionally tense close to the game.
90' + 2'
JUST OVER! Mertens looks to add to his tally with a shot from 25 yards out, but it is always rising as it flies over the roof of the net.
90' + 1'
Vidal looks to race onto a through-ball in behind the defence but Reina rushes out of his area and is first to it, sliding in to stop the Chilean in his tracks.
Juve look to counter but Isla's ball up to Vucinic is overhit and Reina comes out to collect it. Meanwhile, the crowd are in uproar as six additional minutes are signalled for by the official on the near side.
Insigne comes inside from the left and attempts to slide a pass into Pandev inside the box but Chiellini makes an important interception, diverting it out for a throw in on the far side.
Callejon comes off to a fantastic ovation as he is replaced by Dzemaili. Benitez just looking to sure things up, but in reality Juve are already out of this one.
Mertens puts in a good tackle on Chiellini but as the centre-back falls to ground, a stray foot catches the Belgian in the face. The medical staff come on to assist but he should be fine to carry on.
Smoke begins to roll across the pitch as the falres are lit by the Napoli fans in the stands. Their support has been unrelenting and their side fully deserve this lead against the defending champions and league leaders.
The San Paolo is rocking now! There is an air of desperation about Juve's play as the continue to launch long passes up to the forwards from deep, but it has been a fruitless approach all night.
Assist Goran Pandev
Goal Dries Mertens
GOOOOOOAL! MERTENS SEALS IT! Napoli counterattack ruthlessly from the Juventus corner as Benitez's two substitutes combine brilliantly. Pandev switches the play out to Mertens on the right and he holds off the weak challenge of Marchisio before drilling a low shot into the far corner with Buffon idle.
Pirlo delays taking a corner kick as missiles are thrown at him from the stands. He is told to get on with it by the referee but he walks away until it subsides.
HAMSIK! HE HAS TO DO BETTER! Pandev brings the ball under control and spins Bonucci before releasing Hamsik. The Slovakian can race through on goal but his fatigue gets the better of him so he tries to place a shot from distance. It lacks sufficient power to get past Buffon, who makes the save comfortably.
WHAT A TACKLE! Ghoulam times his challenge brilliantly, sliding in to block Isla's attempted cross after Vucinic had set him away with a lovely through-ball. If he'd got that wrong it would have been a penalty, but boy did he get it right!
Napoli are just looking to hold onto possession now and take the sting out of the game. They play it across the back but Ghoulam is eventually forced to send it long, handing possession straight back to the visitors.
CLOSE! Lichtsteiner stands a great cross up at the back post which Vucinic nods back across goal. Marchisio is in plenty of space to receive it but he cannot get enough height on his jump to be able to control it and the chance goes begging.
Benitez makes his first change of the night as Higuain makes way for Pandev. The Argentine has worked hard tonight but the chances just haven't come his way.
It is all Juve at the moment. Napoli seem content to play on the counterattack, and you can't blame them as the visitors have lacked cohesion tonight. They are still struggling to create chances despite all of Conte's changes.
Osvaldo threw the jacket he was holding to the ground as he made his way towards the bench, but that looked to be borne solely from frustration at his performance. Vucinic almost makes the perfect impact, though, but his curling effort from the top of the box shades the outside of the post.
Inler goes for goal from distance but he drags a low effort wide of the target. With the ball out of play Osvaldo is withdrawn, with Vucinic coming on in his stead.
Juve fail to make anything of it, but that was the first time we've really seen Vidal make one of his trademark darts into the area. He has struggled to get involved following that early knock.
That is better from Pirlo, as he switches the play out to Isla on the right flank. The wing-back then slides a pass to his compatriot, Vidal, inside the box, but the Chilean's attempted cutback is blocked by and Juve have a corner.
Pirlo just can't seem to find his range from set pieces tonight. This time around he opts to go for goal from 30 yards but he blazes his shot well off target.
Yellow Card Henrique
We've played over an hour at San Paolo now and Juve are still yet to really test Reina. The keeper has had to make a couple of saves, but none of them have stretched him. Conversely, Buffon has been extremely busy at the other end, and was it not for him Napoli could be out of sight.
WHAT A SAVE!! Ghoulam bends the free kick towards the target with his left foot but it is close enough to Buffon for him to get his hands to it. The veteran keeper tips the shot onto the bar and from there it goes behind.
Yellow Card Leonardo Bonucci
Hamsik drives at the defence and skips between Pogba and Bonucci, but the centre-back catches his leg just outside the box. He receives a booking, and Napoli are awarded a free kick in a very, very dangerous area.
Pirlo switches the play out to the left and Lichtsteiner plays a give-and-go with Pogba. The return pass gives him an opportunity to go for goal inside the box, but the ball is caught under his feet so he can only muster a tame effort at Reina's goal.
Lichtsteiner picks up a rather foolish booking for a needles push on Reina as the Spanish keeper looked to take a drop kick.
Yellow Card Stephan Lichtsteiner
Isla almost makes an instant impact as he gets to the byeline but his attempts to centre the ball are thwarted by Reina, who gets down quickly to smother the cross.
Conte has made the first change of the night as he replaces Asamoah with Isla. The Ghanaian has been given a torrid evening by Callejon tonight.
Henrique flights a pass over the top of the defence for Callejon but the Spaniard is adjudged offside. That is a poor call from the assistant referee, and he would have been through on goal.
Jorginho launches a quick free kick from deep, attempting to search out Callejon on the right with a long ball. The Spaniard is chased by Asamoah, who goes to ground as he tries to get back in position. The contact was minimal, but a free kick is awarded to the visitors.
Lichtsteiner is dispossessed by Ghoulam down near the byeline on the near side, and he stays down holding his hand following the challenge. He may have landed on it awkwardly but Juve will want him to stay on as his deliveries have been impressive so far.
Here we go!
Welcome back! The teams are making their way back out onto the pitch, and we will be back underway shortly.
Plenty for Conte to think about at half time, and it promises to be an equally enjoyable second half. Be sure to join me for the second half in 10 minutes.
HALF TIME - Napoli 1-0 Juventus: Well, a breathtaking first half comes to a close with the Partenopei taking a slender, but deserved, lead into the break thanks to Callejon's goal. The hosts have been by far the more dangerous of the two sides, with the Bianconeri lacking energy in their attack in the absence of Tevez.
45' + 1'
Higuain goes down in the box under a challenge from Chiellini but the referee is unmoved and instead blows for half time.
Just one minute of added time to be played.
OSVALDO! Ambitious from the on-loan striker as he goes for a scissor kick from Lichtsteiner's cross, but he connects with his shin and sends his attempt well off target.
The confidence is oozing through this Napoli side at the moment as they knock the ball about calmly in the Juve half. It is eventually worked out wide to Ghoulam but his cross for Callejon is far too deep and it bounces out of play for a throw in on the far side.
Another corner to Napoli as Pirlo did well to win possession from Inler, but then miscommunicated with Pogba and instantly gave it straight back to the hosts. There was no one in the box for Inler's eventual delivery, but Caceres turned it behind nonetheless.
Callejon's movement has been extremely impressive so far this evening, and he did superbly to get into position to slide Insigne's cross into the back of the net. Chiellini was busy arguing with Rafael Benitez in the touchline before that!
Assist Lorenzo Insigne
Goal José Callejón
GOOOOOOOOOAL! NAPOLI TAKE THE LEAD! Chiellini had been forced off the pitch following that challenge due to blood on his shirt, and so he was not in position as Callejon ghosted in to slot the ball home from Insigne's cross. Napoli are good value for their lead, but the Bianconeri may feel aggrieved at that.
Yellow Card Gökhan Inler
Inler picks up the first yellow card as Chiellini beats him to the ball in a 50-50 challenge and the Swiss ends up scything the Juve man to ground.
STAT: This is Pablo Osvaldo's seventh appearance for Juve and he is yet to register a shot on target in any of them. Not the kind of form you want in World Cup year.
Pirlo goes for goal with a free kick from distance but it hits the one-man wall of Jorginho. He looks to have blocked it with his arm, but the referee allows play to continue despite the appeals from the Bianconeri players.
Juve appear to have weathered the early storm from Napoli and are now beginning to assert themselves on the game. They are retaining more possession and the Partenopei are only threatening on the counterattack now. The match is extremely delicately poised.
SAVED! Insigne is released down the left by Ghoulam and he cuts a pass back into the box. It is just behind Higuain but Callejon runs onto it at the back post and sends a rasping drive at Buffon which the keeper manages to palm behind.
Juve finally manage a sustained spell of pressure in side the Napoli half but this time they are unable to forge a chance from which to test Reina. This is proving to be a fascinating match-up so far.
REINA! It ends up being a routine save for the on-loan goalkeeper as Lichtsteiner attempts to bend a shot into the bottom corner after Osvaldo loses his footing while attempting to beat Albiol in the area. The Swiss put that straight at the keeper, but at least it is finally an effort on target for his side.
Pirlo clips it towards the back post, but none of his team-mates make a run to get on the end of his delivery and Reina can claim the ball unchallenged.
Beautiful play from Pogba! The Frenchman spins Jorginho inside his own half and opens up his legs, galloping into the Napoli half. He ends up checking back but is brought to ground, and Juve have a free kick 25 yards out, in a left-of-centre position.
STAT: Napoli and Juventus have scored the joint-most first-half goals this season, with 32. Higuain almost makes it 33 for the hosts but Ghoulam's cross is just too far ahead of him to get an effort away on goal.
Twenty minutes have passed and Napoli have completely dominated them. It's unusual to see Juve put under so much pressure and they have yet to get a shot on goal. Pirlo has not seen enough of possession to really stamp his mark on the game.
Henrique typically plies his trade in the centre of defence, or just in front of it, but he is playing with all the flair of a traditional Brazilian full-back tonight. Another run into the box sees him earn his team yet another corner, but they do not test Buffon from it.
Asamoah and Lichtsteiner have been penned back for the whole of the opening quarter of an hour. The visitors have not mounted a meaningful spell in possession in the opposition half as of yet, but Napoli need to make this pressure count with a goal.
Insigne goes on a darting run down the left, gliding past Caceres like a breeze. He attempts to feed Higuain inside the box but his pass is just too far behind the Argentine for him to get it out from under his feet and Bonucci brings an end to the move.
Llorente's lack of involvement looks to have caused him a great opportunity there as he is picked out by Pogba in space on the edge of the area, but his poor control sees the ball slip out from under his feet.
We have seen almost nothing of Osvaldo and Llorente in attack for the visitors tonight. The Old Lady are trying to pick them out with the long ball as they are being pressed quickly by the Partenopei when they do get possession. It means the strikers are spending most of their time chasing lost causes.
ANOTHER TOP SAVE! Henrique and Callejon combine well on the right flank, with a quick one-two setting the Brazilian defender in at the byeline. He cuts the ball back and Hamsik steers it towards goal with his first touch but Buffon leaps up and claws the shot over the top.
Napoli are in the ascendancy here. They look extremely dangerous and have the Bianconeri penned back inside their own half. Juve are coming under real pressure.
Disallowed! Buffon almost undoes his good work as he flaps at a cross into the area and the loose ball is eventually tucked into the net by Hamsik. However, the assistant referee has his flag raised as the Slovakian did so from an offside position.
WHAT A SAVE! Buffon makes an excellent reaction stop to keep out Callejon as the Spaniard gets on the end of Inler's deflected shot. He steers it on target but the keeper gets low and stops it from finding the back of the net.
Vidal comes back onto the field of play to help his side defend from the corner but Albiol still wins the header at the back post. He gets his effort on target, but he could not generate enough power to guide it past Buffon and the keeper collects.
The Bianconeri are temporarily down to 10 men and Inler looks to take full advantage by sending a diagonal ball in towards the back post, but Asamoah nods it away. Higuain is eventually released towards the byeline but Chiellini blocks his cross, diverting it behind for a corner.
We already have a stoppage in play as Vidal goes to ground with no one around him. He's holding his right knee and is currently receiving treatment. Marchisio steps up his warm-up routine on the touchline.
Juve's early possession is greeted with a chorus of whistles from the stands. The home fans only let up when Osvaldo fails to catch up with a long ball over the top that ends up running out of play for a goal kick to the Partenopei.
We are underway in Naples!
The teams are making their way out onto the pitch now. Kick off just a few moments away.
We have just five minutes to go until kick off in Naples. It's sure to be a cracking game. Can Napoli halt the momentum built up by this irrepressible Juve outfit tonight, or will the Bianconeri take another step to retaining the Scudetto?
It was Fiorentina who inflicted that solitary away defeat on Juve, and the Viola became only the second team to win at San Paolo in Serie A this season with a 1-0 win last weekend. Napoli have now won just four of their last nine home games, but you can be sure there will be an intimidating atmosphere inside the stadium tonight.
So, although Juve have a midweek Europa League quarter-final with Olympique Lyonnais coming up, there is just the one enforced change for tonight's visitors. You cannot blame the coach for wanting to maintain consistency in his selection: the Bianconeri have not conceded in their previous three games away from home and have only lost once on the road in this Serie A campaign.
Serie A’s highest-scoring player Carlos Tevez misses out due to a ban so Pablo Osvaldo partners Fernando Llorente in attack. Andrea Barzagli and Angelo Ogbonna both still out due to injury so there is no change in defence from Conte.
Dries Mertens, Rafael, Juan Zuniga and Christian Maggio are all out, but Faouzi Ghoulam is back after serving a suspension so he starts at left-back. Gokhan Inler and Jorginho start in the midfield with Valon Behrami and Blerim Dzemaili take their places on the bench. Gonzalo Higuain is restored to the starting line-up after being rested for the 4-2 midweek win over Catania.
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Llorente, Osvaldo.
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Reina; Henrique, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Inler, Jorginho; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain.
The teams have been announced, so let's have a look at how the two sides will be shaping up tonight.
The Bianconeri may currently be enjoying a fantastic unbeaten streak, but their last Serie A win at the San Paolo came all the way back in October 2000. Goals from Darko Kovacevic and Alessandro Del Piero brought them from behind to win 2-1 on the opening day of the 2000-01 Serie A season.
League leaders Juventus travel to the San Paolo to face third-placed Napoli this evening, with Antonio Conte's men undefeated in their last 22 Serie A outings and looking to open up a 14-point advantage over Roma at the top. The Partenopei, however, will be hoping to close the gap on the second-placed Giallorossi with a victory tonight. It is a mouthwatering clash and I, Tom Webber, will be guiding you through the action.
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