Alasdair Mackenzie Date: 3rd March 2019 at 10:29pm
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Juventus all but secured an eighth consecutive Serie A title with a 2-1 win away to nearest challengers Napoli that moved them 16 points clear at the top of the table, as both teams had players sent off and Lorenzo Insigne missed a penalty at the Stadio San Paolo.

Alex Meret was given his marching order for the hosts in the first half, with goals from Miralem Pjanic and Emre Can putting Juve in the driving seat at half time. However, Napoli rallied after Pjanic earned a second booking with Jose Callejon pulling one back, before Insigne missed a golden chance to equalise.

As a result, Juventus have now broken their club record of 26 matches unbeaten away from home, and also maintain their unbeaten record this season.

Napoli started on the front foot until a short back pass from Kevin Malcuit encouraged Meret to rush out of his box, but Cristiano Ronaldo got there first and went down under minimal contact that was nevertheless enough to earn the goalkeeper a straight red card.

Pjanic added insult to injury by curling a sublime free-kick over the wall and into the corner from the resulting set piece, but Piotr Zielinski almost responded immediately as he broke through the Juve defence and smashed a shot off the post just a minute later.

Can looked to have ended the game as a contest when he doubled the visitors’ advantage with a header five minutes before the break, but Napoli were handed a lifeline when Pjanic was shown a second yellow card just three minutes into the second half for a needless handball.

The playmaker’s expulsion made it a 10 vs 10 encounter and Napoli were immediately on the front foot, Callejon reducing the deficit just after the hour mark when he tucked in a close range finish from Insigne’s dangerous cross.

Napoli had a glorious chance to level the scores with six minutes remaining when Insigne stepped up to take a penalty after referee Gianluca Rocchi penalised Alex Sandro for a debatable handball following a VAR review, but the Vesuviani skipper’s effort cannoned back off the post.

Scudetto in the bag

An eighth Scudetto looks all but assured for Juve, who did just about enough to get the result they needed in the most hostile of arenas.

The Old Lady players were heckled, booed and jeered mercilessly from the moment they stepped out for the warm up until the moment they retreated down the tunnel at full time, but managed to capitalise on their numerical advantage in the first half and weather a Napoli storm in the second.

With a 16-point lead at the summit of the table, another title is almost assured, but the performance will again leave Juve fans with some concerns ahead of their Champions League last 16 second leg at home to Atletico Madrid in 10 days’ time. They still appear to lack the midfield steel and sharpness in the final third that will be needed to perform a stunning comeback against Diego Simeone’s side, who won 2-0 in the first leg.

Napoli finally breached

With the run they were on, it was always going to take something special to breach the Napoli defence.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side were aiming to record six consecutive clean sheets for the first time since January 2010, but in the end a combination of a lack of concentration from Malcuit and a rash decision from Meret was enough to reduce them to 10 men and given Pjanic the chance to curl a delightful free-kick over the wall and into the corner.

The Vesuviani’s defensive record wasn’t the only one to crumble under the Juventus juggernaut, as their run of 18 Serie A home games without defeat – which stretched back to March 2018 – finally came to an end.