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June 25, 2017

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Juventus defeat Catania 1-0 amid controversy

MILAN -- Defending champion Juventus extended its unbeaten in Serie A streak to 48 games following a contentious 1-0 win at 10-man Catania on Sunday in which the Sicilian side had a goal disallowed.

Catania thought it had taken a first-half lead through Gonzalo Bergessio but the strike was ruled out after almost a minute of deliberation. The reason for the disallowed goal was not immediately clear — either offside or for a handling offence.

In the aftermath of the decision, Catania President Antonino Pulvirenti was banished from the bench and in the ensuing five minutes five of its players were booked as tension between the sides rose.

To add insult to injury, Nicklas Bendtner appeared in an offside position in the buildup to Arturo Vidal's second-half goal for the Serie A leader.

Giovanni Marchese was sent off in the 67th minute after receiving his second booking to cap a miserable day for Catania.

Bookmaker Paddy Power has paid out to those who placed a bet on a Catania victory, calling it a "Justice Payout." It says "sometimes a result is so unfair that, quite simply, it's right to pay out."

Pulvirenti, who said the referee apologized to him, was still visibly irate after the match.

"It's not only that our goal was disallowed, but Juve's goal was offside," Pulvirenti fumed. "It's the third time decisions have gone against us after the matches against Parma and Inter. An offside goal for them and a good goal which wasn't given to us ... What's most absurd is that the goal was ruled out by the Juventus bench, the linesman had given the goal.

"The goal was ruled out only after Juve's protests. It's a scandal, a disgrace. They gave our goal and then ruled it out after the protests. Mistakes can happen, but decisions can't be changed after protests from the bench. I want explanations."

The stadium rocked with chants of "thieves, thieves" from the disgruntled Catania fans at the end of the match.

"On the pitch we didn't see much," Juventus assistant manager Angelo Alessio said. "The linesman lifted his flag, then I don't know what happened. No, the Juventus bench didn't do anything. The linesman was talking to the official and he made the decision. Some of our players who were closer to the incident went to the officials. A mistake can happen and it's a shame, but we played our game and wasted several scoring opportunities.

"We took control from start to finish and dominated with 11 shots on goal ... There was only one team on the field — Juventus — and Catania defended well. An incident can happen, we should all just move on."

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon kept another clean sheet on his 500th Serie A appearance.

With Claudio Marchisio and Lucio injured, Paul Pogba and Bendtner made their first Serie A starts.

Catania hadn't won this fixture since 1964 but it put the pressure on Juventus.

Nicolas Spolli's header clipped Francesco Lodi and came off the post, and Bergessio was on hand to smash in the rebound. Catania players were still celebrating when the referee disallowed the goal after consulting with his assistant.

Juventus took the lead in the 57th minute when Bendtner, who appeared to be offside, had his effort parried by Andujar but Vidal was on hand to follow up.

Napoli remains in second place, three points behind Juventus after Marek Hamsik's strike handed it a 1-0 win against Chievo Verona.

Chievo's Kamil Vacek was dismissed in the 78th.

Inter Milan is a point further back after beating Bologna 3-1 through goals by Andrea Ranocchia, Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso.

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