Juventus Down Chievo to Fend Off Napoli Chase in the Serie A

Adrian Agius@@agius2nvAnalyst IFebruary 3, 2013

VERONA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 03:  Alessandro Matri of Juventus celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the Serie A match between AC Chievo Verona and Juventus FC at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on February 3, 2013 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
Dino Panato/Getty Images

Defending Italian champions Juventus staged an impressive first-half display to down Chievo Verona 2-1 at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

Goals for both Alessandro Matri and Stephan Lichtsteiner in the first half were enough to see off the Flying Donkeys, despite a second-half resurgence. The win sees the Bianconeri go three points clear at the top of the league after Napoli temporarily drew themselves equal.

Recent poor form saw Antonio Conte's men bow out of the Coppa Italia at the hands of Lazio. Despite their poor showing of late, Juventus recovered well to dominate opening proceedings. And it didn't take long to open the scoring, taking the lead after just 11 minutes. 

Powerhouse midfielder Arturo Vidal collected the ball just outside the Chievo area, the Chilean then expertly picked out Alessandro Matri with an inch-perfect lob. The Italian International fired a powerful volley home to leave Christian Puggioni helpless in goal. 

Just minutes later, Sebastian Giovinco almost doubled the advantage after linking up nicely with Matri. His effort trickled just wide of the post.

Meanwhile, down at the other end, Chievo were relying on the counter to peg back a rampant Juve. Both Alberto Paloschi and Cyril Thereau went close respectively, but the Juve trio of Martin Caceres, Luca Marrone and Andrea Barzagli kept it together relatively well.

With Pirlo at the heart of all things Juventus, it was only a matter of time before Juventus doubled their lead. This time around, Matri held up the ball nicely in the Chievo penalty area. A square ball then found Giovinco, before the atomic ant played a delightful backheel to Lichtsteiner. The Swiss International then fired home from close range with his left foot to send the travelling fans into a frenzy.

The score was 2-0 heading into the half-time break. 

Whatever Chievo manager Eugenio Corini said to his men at half-time did more than good to aid the Chievo cause. A sloppy Juventus start compounded by a fast Chievo start saw the home side pull one back just seven minutes into the second half.

Paolo De Ceglie could not get any purchase on a clearance as the ball fell nicely for Frenchman Thereau. The Chievo forward fired home a powerful half-volley from inside the area to leave Gianluigi Buffon helpless. At 2-1, Juve were on the back foot and the game looked to be shaping up nicely.

From there, however, the match seemingly played into a bore contest. No side threatened either end as both Chievo and Juve seemed content to play tiki taka in the middle of the park. I, for one, found myself trying to keep occupied in whatever way possible.

...as you can see, it got very exciting.

With subs from both sides and no appearance from Nicolas Anelka, the game very slowly ticked down to the final whistle. It finished 2-1 to the Bianconeri. A much-needed win.

Considering the numerous suspensions and injuries Juventus have incurred of late, Conte's men will only get stronger from here.

FULL TIME: Chievo 1-2 Juventus