Juventus kept pace with Serie A leaders Inter Milan thanks to Sunday’s 1-0 win at Fiorentina in a match controversially played despite deadly floods, while Romelu Lukaku fired Roma to a late 2-1 win over Lecce.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side are two points behind Inter after a hard-fought win in Florence earned thanks to Fabio Miretti’s first goal for the club in the 10th minute.
“I’m happy because I was looking for it for a long time and finally it’s arrived. I hope others are going to come,” said Miretti to DAZN.
It was a classic Juve performance under Allegri, whose team were content to sit back and soak up wave after wave of attack from their profligate hosts and try to strike on the break.
Juve have kept six clean sheets in as many matches since shipping four goals at Sassuolo in late September and without European football they look Inter’s most credible rivals for this season’s Scudetto, with the pair meeting in Turin after this month’s international break.
“You also have to win games on the back foot, with good defending,” said Allegri, who insisted his team are not looking at the title.
“You always have to look forwards, but that doesn’t mean the Scudetto. Inter, Milan and Napoli are all better equipped.”
Sunday’s match took place amid protests from a section of Fiorentina’s hardcore support and even the mayor of Florence who had both demanded the fixture be postponed following the serious damage wrought across Tuscany by Storm Ciaran.
Italian authorities declared a state of emergency on Friday as record rainfall led to floods sweeping the region and seven people dying.
Fiorentina’s ultras did not attend what is traditionally the biggest match of their season in protest at the decision to allow the game to take place.
With the worst of the weather gone they opted instead to help the clean-up operation, while those who did go to the Stadio Artemio Franchi took part in a minute’s silence for the victims before kick-off.
Their team could not rally from Miretti sweeping in Filip Kostic’s low cross and drop to eighth, level on 17 points with Roma who will be feeling more positive about next weekend’s Rome derby after their stunning late comeback.
ROMA’S LATE, LATE SHOW
Jose Mourinho’s Roma looked set for a shock defeat at the Stadio Olimpico when Pontus Almqvist netted Lecce’s opener in the 71st minute.
But Iran striker Sardar Azmoun pulled the hosts level in the 91st minute with a bullet header – his first goal in Serie A – and Lukaku brought the house down three minutes later with a rifled finish.
Lukaku’s winner was redemption as he would have bore the brunt of the blame for a defeat after missing a sixth-minute penalty and another golden opportunity eight minutes after the break, but ended the match in Mourinho’s arms and hailed by the raucous home crowd.
Roma are seventh, four points away from the Champions League spots and one ahead of Lazio who lost at Bologna on Friday.
Mourinho was also cheered by the return of Paulo Dybala, whose brilliant pass laid on Lukaku’s ninth Roma goal in all competitions since he signed on loan from Chelsea in late August.
Dybala could easily have finished the game with a brace after a pair of sumptuous strikes in each half blazed wide, and he looked in fine fettle after recovering from a knee ligament injury.
“I’ve just spoken to him and while I thought he would say it would be better to stay here, not travel (to Slavia Prague in the Europa League) and prepare for next weekend, he told me that he wants to come with us,” added Mourinho.
Cagliari moved out of the relegation zone with their second straight win, 2-1 against fellow promoted outfit Genoa.
Claudio Ranieri’s side sit a point ahead of Verona who are just inside the relegation zone after falling to a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of Monza.