Juventus will remain in first place unless Napoli beats Lazio on Saturday.

By 90Min
February 09, 2018

Juventus went top of Serie A on Friday night in Florence as they comfortably dispatched Fiorentina 2-0 at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Stefano Pioli's Fiorentina came into the home clash against Juventus - in a "game with a capital G" as described by the local press - with the intention of replicating last year's performance, in which they came out victorious.

It was a lot easier said than done against a Juve outfit who have fallen only to Sampdoria and Lazio this term, conceding just a single goal in their last 16 games in all competitions.

A dull start to the game was revived by a controversial decision, as the referee awarded a penalty against ex-Fiorentina loanee Giorgio Chiellini in the 18th minute for handball...or so it appeared.

Former Aston Villa midfielder Jordan Veretout waited a total of three minutes with the ball on the penalty spot as Allegri's players sprung every trick in the book to delay the spot-kick. Eventually the ref reversed the decision, indicating that VAR had spotted an offside in the build-up to the play - although the final touch came off right back Alex Sandro.

Pioli was incensed on the touchline with the level of indecision from the officials, but immediately relayed tactical messages to his side. And the Italian will have been pleased with the reaction of his players, as they instantly went after the defending champions and penned them back with a spell of sustained possession.

Massimiliano Allegri's team defended resolutely until they were opened up around the 30 minutes in. Breaking from a Miralem Pjanic corner, Portuguese U-21 international Gil Bastiao Dias beat Gianluigi Buffon with a driven shot across goal, but it cannoned off the post to Pioli's mounting frustration.

The home side continued in fine fettle after the interval and calved out a number of half chances looking by far the more threatening side.

However, a gut punch proceeded their efforts as former fan favorite Federico Bernardeschi - labeled as a "traitor" by the home support - netted a sensational free-kick from 25 yards on his return to the Stadio Artemio Franchi in the 56th minute. His celebration was anything but muted.

La Viola continued in the same positive demeanor after conceding and pressed the away side back, although any crosses and attempted shots were blocked and cleared by a formidable defensive blockade.

The introduction of Brazilian winger Douglas Costa gave something for Fiorentina to worry about instantly, as the 27-year-old skinned Davide Astori and cut a neat pass back to Gonzalo Higuain minutes after coming off the bench, who's effort was skewed just wide.

Juventus then sealed the three points in the 85th minute as Higuain netted his fourth goal in his last four trips to Florence. The home side, having committed everyone forward were sliced apart by a long ball from Chiellini, and the Argentine international slotted home accurately into the bottom right.

Now atop Serie A, Juventus will keep a close eye on Napoli's home clash against Lazio on Saturday night. Anything less than a win and Allegri's side will remain on course to defend their league title this campaign.

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