Matri brace helps Juventus beat Udinese 2-1

AP, Sunday 29 Jan 2012

Juventus’ charge towards the Serie A title gathered pace with a 2-1 win over third-placed Udinese in falling snow on Saturday

Alessandro Matri
Juventus' Alessandro Matri celebrates after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Udinese

Alessandro Matri scored either side of Antonio Floro Flores’ equalizer to help unbeaten leader Juventus move four points clear of second-placed AC Milan, which faces Cagliari on Sunday.

Udinese was two points further back and could be caught by Inter Milan, which visits Lecce.

Earlier, Catania was held to 1-1 by Parma, a result which did neither team any favors in the standings.

Gonzalo Bergessio gave Catania a deserved lead shortly after the half-hour mark, but Francesco Modesto leveled 10 minutes later.

Parma was nine points above the relegation zone. Catania was a point further back.

With heavy snowfall in Turin, Juventus started brightly and could have been in front as early as the second minute. Arturo Vidal sent a long ball over the top of the Udinese defense to Marcelo Estigarribia, who raced clear through on goal but Udinese’s Samir Handanovic—recently voted last year’s top goalkeeper — did well to race out and block the danger.

Juventus counterpart Gianluigi Buffon did even better in the 15th minute as first he fingertipped Almen Abdi’s snapshot over the crossbar then pulled off an even more impressive save from the ensuing corner as, at full stretch, he tipped Pablo Armero’s fierce volley from just outside the area around his right post.

Udinese had conceded just 14 goals in the league going into the game and Handanovic again proved his worth when he raced out of his area to block Matri’s shot at point-blank range.

However, Matri did score in the 42nd. Estigarribia picked out Fabio Quagliarella in the area and although his header was well saved by Handanovic, it rebounded straight to Matri who tapped it in from close range.

Udinese almost leveled eight minutes into the second half when the league’s joint topscorer Antonio Di Natale unleashed a wicked 25-yard shot which brushed the outside of the left upright.

The visiting side did equalize two minutes later as Mauricio Isla raced half the length of the pitch before slotting the ball across the edge of the area to Floro Flores, who controlled it with one touch and fired into the bottom right corner.

And Udinese came close to taking the lead four minutes later but, under pressure from two Juve defenders, Di Natale blazed over the bar from point-blank range.

Matri scored a stunning winner in the 62nd. He controlled Claudio Marchisio’s pass well before turning Udinese defender Damiano Ferronetti and slotting it into the far corner.

There was a minute’s silence before the Catania game and the home players wore black armbands following the death of former club president Ignazio Marcoccio.

Catania, playing its first game without topscorer Maxi Lopez after his loan move to AC Milan, started brightly and took the lead in the 33rd. A long ball by captain Marco Biagianti released Bergessio, who raced clear of chasing Parma defenders Alessandro Lucarelli and Goncalo Brandao, before rounding Nicola Pavarini and drilling it into the far corner.

Parma should have leveled when Sergio Floccari headed a good cross from Francesco Valiani off the post, but it equalized seconds later. Sebastian Giovinco’s cross was headed out but only as far as the onrushing Modesto who fired into the bottom right corner.

Parma should have won the game in the final minute. Stefano Okaka was sent clear by Daniele Galloppa, but the on-loan Roma striker sent a cross-goal shot inches wide of the right upright.

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