Juventus responded to Roma’s victory over Atalanta by overcoming Udinese 2-0 at the Friuli stadium to restore their eight-point lead at the Serie A summit on Monday evening
Sebastian Giovinco put the visitors on their way in the 16th minute before Fernando Llorente doubled their lead 10 minutes later to seal the win. Giovinco was unlucky not to add a third in the 68th minute when his strike rebounded off the post.
Udinese, who failed to test Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon until the 88th minute, saw substiute Luis Muriel’s attempt deep in stoppage time denied by the woodwork.
With the rest of results already known, the stakes were clear for Juve, who had seen their advantage at the top cut to five points heading into the encounter. The Turin giants showed no signs of tiredness after beating Lyon 2-1 at home on Thursday to reach the Europa League semi-finals.
Juve coach Antonio Conte left the team’s top scorer Carlos Tevez on the bench, fielding Giovinco and Llorente up front. Udinese captain Antonio Di Natale returned to play having missed his team’s last two games with a knee injury.
Di Natale had the first opportunity of the game in the fifth minute but his powerful free-kick went over the bar. Juve went ahead shortly after when Paul Pogba found Giovinco in the box and his left-footed shot towards the far post beat Udinese goalkeeper Simone Scuffet.
Giovinco came close to scoring his second in the 25th minute but saw his 15-yard effort kept out by Scuffet. Juve made it 2-0 seconds later when Udinese failed to clear a corner and Llorente was there to smash the ball home from close range.
Before half-time, the home fans demanded a penalty when Di Natale went down in the area under pressure from Martin Caceres but the referee waved play on.
Udinese’s struggles continued after the re-start and it was Juve that continued to push forward. In the 49th minute, Giovinco sent a 25-yard effort just wide of the post.
Giovinco almost added his second after the hour mark when he got past his marker and his well-struck effort hit the woodwork with Scuffet beaten. Juve slowed down the pace and it was Udinese that went forward in the final minutes.
Buffon made his first save of the night to clear Maurizio Domizzi’s shot from the edge of the area. Shortly after, Buffon saw Muriel’s hard drive hit the far post with the keeper already beaten.
Juve’s players celebrated after the final whistle as they fulfilled their duty to keep Roma at arm’s length with five games to go in the Serie A season.