MILAN: Juventus “suffered” on their way to a 2-1 win away to Sampdoria on Sunday (Monday in Manila) and expect a “difficult” time trying to stay near the top of Serie A, coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
Hovering above the relegation zone after their first matches of the season, the Turin giants are firmly back in contention for a record-equaling fifth consecutive title after moving two places up to second at two points behind Napoli.
Inter Milan dropped to third, also on 38 points, following a shock 1-0 defeat to Sassuolo while Fiorentina slipped to fourth at a further point off the pace following their shock 3-1 defeat to Lazio on Saturday.
Juventus looked to be cruising to their ninth consecutive win of the campaign after Sami Khedira added to Paul Pogba’s 17th minute strike when he collected Paulo Dybala’s pinpoint pass to beat Emiliano Viviano in the hosts’ net.
But Antonio Cassano reduced the arrears in the 64th minute and Sampdoria were unfortunate not to earn at least a share of the spoils after the hosts spurned a series of late opportunities.
“Sampdoria played well in the final minutes,” admitted Allegri in a post-match interview with Mediaset.
“It was a great win for us but we suffered. Winning nine games in a row isn’t easy so moving up to second place is a big achievement for us.”
Napoli went top of the table at the halfway stage of the season for the first time since Diego Maradona led them to the second of their two leagues titles in 1990.
Having already succumbed 2-1 to Maurizio Sarri’s men this term, Allegri added: “Napoli are having a great campaign, they’re a quality side and really compact. I know they’re fired up.
“It wasn’t easy for us to come back [into contention], and it will be difficult for us to stay up here.”