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June 29, 2017

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Juve go clear of Napoli; Milan slump again

TURIN, Italy -- Uruguayan Jose Caceres and French recruit Paul Pogba scored a goal apiece as champions Juventus pulled three points clear of closest challengers Napoli with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

But AC Milan's problems continued when they slumped to a fifth defeat of the season, 3-2 at third-placed Lazio.

Juventus and Napoli went into the top-of-the-table clash, billed as a battle between the poor south and rich north, as the only two unbeaten teams in the league after seven games.

But after a dominant first half by Juve in which Sebastian Giovinco and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani came close to opening the scoring, Juventus quashed Napoli's hopes in two second-half minutes to claim their seventh win in eight games.

As Juventus coach Antonio Conte continues to sit out a suspension which ends in December, it was up to his assistant Angelo Alessio, taking charge on his first game back following his own suspension, to sing his team's praises.

"It was a good overall performance. I think the team showed their will to win, we were attacking while Napoli were relying on the counter attack," said Alessio.

"We've won seven of our eight games so far, we're well organized and we went out tonight to win. When we scored our opener, it was no surprise. We put six players up for that corner who could potentially score."

Napoli have been one of the most attack-minded teams in the league this season but on this occasion they were made to pay for their wait-and-see approach.

That did not stop coach Walter Mazzarri, however, from putting a positive spin on his players' display.

"I'm happy about our overall performance. I thanked the players one by one," said Mazzarri after Napoli's first defeat of the season left them three points behind the champions.

"It wasn't easy because we were up against one of the best teams in Europe.

But we had more possession than Juve, we controlled the match more than

Juventus and they scored against the run of play."

As early as the first minute Juve signaled their aims as Giovinco strolled into the area following a short corner to unleash a shot which Morgan De Sanctis did well to get low and collect.

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