Juventus, Higuain beat Roma to increase Serie A lead

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Sunday December 18th, 2016

MILAN — No one seems capable of stopping Juventus from winning an historic sixth successive Serie A after it beat second-place Roma 1–0 to move seven points clear at the top of the table on Saturday.

Once again, Gonzalo Higuain fired his side to the win, netting his fourth goal in three matches in the 14th minute.

"It wasn't a fundamental victory because the season is still long, but one which gives us conviction and which creates a little gap," Juventus goalkeeer Gianluigi Buffon said. "It allows us to get to Christmas with the best feelings."

Since Serie A was founded in 1929, no club has won more than five straight titles.

Torino won five in a row from 1943–49 (including a season that was canceled due to World War II), Inter Milan from 2006–10, and Juventus in 1931–35, and currently.

"We need to be really good to close the gap again," Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said. "We were good in stopping their attacks but then we made errors in certain decisions and they controlled their lead.

"I liked the team's attitude but you saw it only after we went behind, we conceded an avoidable goal and we should have done more in the opening minutes ... we leave very upset, we should have got a result and we didn't manage to."

Juventus fell to a surprise 3–1 defeat at Genoa at the end of November and Buffon believes that has sparked his side into life.

"In the last three matches, after the Genoa game, I saw a team with identity, the doggedness from before," Buffon said. "But we mustn't think that the advantage in the league allows us to focus more on the Champions League. That would be a mistake. A team like Juve must never feel satisfied."

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Within 30 seconds of kickoff, Kostas Manolas barged Mario Mandzukic over the advertising boards to set the tone.

Higuain opened the scoring with a fantastic solo effort, as he shrugged off challenges from Daniele De Rossi and Manolas and muscled his way into the area before curling into the left side of the net.

It was Higuain's 10th league goal for Juventus since transferring from rival Napoli for 90 million euros ($99 million) after scoring 36 goals last season to break a 66-year-old Serie A record.

Roma strove for the equalizer but never really tested Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

The only negative note for Juventus was former Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic going off early in the second half injured.

Roma can cut the gap back to four points before the Christmas break as it hosts Chievo Verona on Thursday, the day before Juventus plays AC Milan in the Italian Super Cup in Doha, Qatar.

AC MILAN 0, ATALANTA 0

Despite no goals, it was an entertaining match on a foggy night at San Siro but AC Milan's already faint Serie A title hopes were dented further.

Third-place Milan fell to nine points behind Juventus. Atalanta remained sixth.

Milan was looking to bounce back from a 1–0 defeat to Roma, while Atalanta had lost two consecutive matches following a run of nine wins and a draw.

There was a frantic finish to the first half as Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a fantastic save to keep out Roberto Gagliardini's header from point blank range. Immediately afterward Luca Antonelli's effort crashed off the left post at the other end.

EMPOLI 2, CAGLIARI 0

Empoli ended its goal drought with a rare Levan Mchedlidze brace, but Cagliari had one penalty saved and another revoked.

Empoli had only seven goals in 16 Serie A matches and hadn't found the back of the net in its two previous matches.

Its goals came from an unlikely source as Mchedlidze netted in each half. The Georgia forward last scored in May 2015, when he also netted a double in a 4–3 defeat at Inter Milan.

Empoli moved five points clear of the relegation zone ahead of the rest of the weekend's fixtures. Cagliari was six points better off.

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