Updated: Sunday, 09 March 2014 22:46 | By Agence France-Presse

Asamoah helps Juve to 14-point lead on Roma

A first-half strike from Juventus winger Kwadwo Asamoah secured a  1-0 win over Fiorentina and stretched the champions' lead over nearest rivals Roma to 14 points on Sunday.


Asamoah helps Juve to 14-point lead on Roma

Kwadwo Asamoah (centre) is congratulated by teammates after scoring for Juventus against Fiorentina on March 9, 2014, at Alps stadium in Turin - by Olivier Morin

Second-placed Roma, who have a game in hand, travel to Napoli later looking to reduce the arrears and stretch their six-point lead over Rafael Benitez's side.

But on this performance, Roma will have to hope Juventus -- who face Fiorentina home and away in the Europa League in the next 11 days -- suffer a major slip-up on what looks like a clear path towards a third consecutive scudetto.

Frenchman Paul Pogba said Juve's 14th home win of the season had sent a message to their rivals.

"It was a crucial match for us and an even more important win in terms of the league title," Pogba told Sky Sport.

Juve coach Antonio Conte hailed his side's performance but admitted they breathed a sigh of relief when Ryder Matos's header came back off Gianluigi Buffon's crossbar in the closing minutes.

"We played really well in the first half and in the second things slowed down a little, also because players were tired from the midweek international friendlies," said Conte.

"We gifted Fiorentina a chance to level late on but thankfully we resisted and came out of it pretty well."

Claudio Marchisio stepped into Andrea Pirlo's deep-lying midfield role as the Italy veteran served a one-match ban, while Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, who have scored 26 league goals between them, led the Bianconeri attack against Vincenzo Montella's men.

Fiorentina had handed Juve their only defeat of the season, a 4-2 comeback win in Florence last October, but had only one win in their last 21 visits to Turin.

Montella admitted Juve had set the agenda, and his side had failed to adapt.

"When you play against Juventus, a lot depends on how they set up," he told Sky Sport.

"We were better in the second half when we played higher up the park, but it wasn't the game we had set out to play."

Juve started with plenty of intent, Tevez and Stephan Lichsteiner threatening with early chances while defender Andrea Barzagli did well to block Alberto Aquilani's strike for the visitors.

Asamoah fired a first warning shot just before the half hour with a deflected effort which forced Neto into a one-handed save, while from the resulting corner the Ghanaian's effort from a tight angle flashed wide.

Juan Vargas was quick to pounce on a poor backpass and although his effort was blocked the Peruvian midfielder proved more useful at the other end when he cleared off the line after Arturo Vidal headed Pogba's flick-on from a corner towards goal.

Fiorentina's defence was finally breached three minutes before the interval with Asamoah reaping rewards for what was a determined performance throughout.

The Ghanaian cut inside from the left and showed some nice skill with his left foot amid several purple jerseys before firing a right-footed shot past Neto at the keeper's far post with the help of a slight deflection.

Fiorentina had the ball in the net three minutes after the restart but Modibo Diakite's goal following a free-kick from outside the area was ruled offside.

Montella replaced tiring Brazilian midfielder Anderson with Mati Fernandez just before the hour but the visitors' first real chance fell to Mario Gomez, who saw his header from Manuel Pasqual's cross go just off target.

Fiorentina continued to press and on 68 minutes Vargas's powerful drive sailed just over Buffon's crossbar.

Montella replaced David Pizarro with Rafal Wolski and the Polish midfielder threatened soon after with a low drive that finished wide of Buffon's upright.

The Juve 'keeper was given a bigger scare 10 minutes from time when Ryder Matos, unmarked in the six-yard box, finished off a good move with a close-range header which bounced off Buffon's crossbar.

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