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Juventus move atop Serie A with 4-1 victory over 10-man Udinese

ROME -- Defending champion Juventus moved atop Serie A with a 4-1 win over 10-man Udinese on Sunday that extended the Bianconeri's unbeaten streak in the Italian league to 41 matches.

The match turned when Udinese goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic was sent off for a foul on Sebastian Giovinco, leading to a penalty kick that Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal converted in the 14th minute. Mirko Vucinic doubled the lead in first-half added time and Giovinco added two more goals, in the 53rd and 71st.

Andrea Lazzari pulled one back for Udinese in the 78th.

Juventus has a full six points, having also won its opener against Parma last weekend.

Napoli and Lazio also have six points, but Juventus is ahead on goal difference.

Napoli beat Fiorentina 2-1 with second-half goals from Marek Hamsik and Blerim Dzemaili before Stevan Jovetic pulled one back for the Tuscan side.

Lazio downed Palermo 3-0 with two goals from Miroslav Klose and another from former Juventus midfielder Antonio Candreva.

Sampdoria also remained perfect with a 2-1 win over Siena but has only five points after being penalized one point in a betting scandal. Sampdoria opened with a 1-0 win over AC Milan, which bounced back with a 3-1 victory at Bologna on Saturday.

Also Sunday, Roma beat Inter Milan 3-1 with goals from Alessandro Florenzi, Pablo Osvaldo and Marquinho after Antonio Cassano had temporarily equalized for Inter.

Roma and Catania, which edged out Genoa 3-2, have four points each.

In other matches, Parma beat Chievo Verona 2-0 with goals from Algerian forward Ishak Belfadil and Aleandro Rosi; and Swedish midfielder Albin Ekdal scored a last-minute equalizer as Cagliari drew 1-1 with 10-man Atalanta after having two penalties saved by Atalanta goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.

Having gone all of last season unbeaten, Juventus has not lost in Serie A since falling 1-0 to Parma in the penultimate round of the 2010-11 season. Thus far, it doesn't appear distracted by the 10-month match-fixing suspension imposed on manager Antonio Conte for violations stemming from when he coached Siena two seasons ago.

Udinese also lost its opener, to Fiorentina, and failed to qualify for the Champions League following two draws with Portuguese side Braga in the final round of playoffs.

In Udine, Andrea Pirlo again ignited Juve's attack. First, the midfield maestro placed a long, vertical pass at the feet of Stephan Lichtsteiner, but the fullback wasted a great chance by shooting high in the fifth.

In the 12th, Pirlo used a similar pass to Giovinco that resulted in the penalty and the red card for Brkic, who made contact with Giovinco as he leaped into the air to grab the ball near the edge of the area.

Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta concurred with sharp criticism from Udinese that Brkic should not have been sent off, but he agreed the penalty was deserved.

“Honestly I think the decision was excessive,” Marotta said. “We wanted to win 11 vs. 11.”

Vucinic was left unmarked to score from the center of the area, while Giovinco pounced on a rebound for his first goal, then received a pass from Pirlo before firing in an angled shot for his second.

Juventus paid Parma 11 million euros (US$13.9 million) to re-acquire Giovinco in the offseason. So far it's looking like a smart deal.

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Juventus' midfielder Arturo Vidal, from Chile, kicks and scores a penalty during the Serie A soccer match between Udinese and Juventus at the “Stadio Friuli” in Udine on Sunday, Sept. 2. (AFP)

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