Turin: Defending champion Juventus needed two late goals from substitutes for a 2-0 win over Napoli in a top-of-the-table clash to take control of the Serie A and extend its league unbeaten streak to 47 matches on Saturday. Uruguay defender Martin Caceres scored in the 80th minute and French teenager Paul Pogba added another goal two minutes later. It was their first goals this season, and 19-year-old Pogba's first in Serie A.
The best Napoli could muster was a free kick off the crossbar from Edinson Cavani in the 26th. Juventus moved three points clear of Napoli, which is attempting to win its first league title since Diego Maradona led the southern club to the honor in 1987 and 1990. Lazio is four points back in third following a 3-2 win over struggling AC Milan at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.
Hernanes put Lazio ahead in the 25th with a deflected shot, Antonio Candreva doubled the lead in the 41st with a long-range effort and Miroslav Klose added another for the Roman squad in the 49th — the Germany international's sixth goal in eight matches — with a volley from the edge of the area while virtually unmarked. Newly signed Nigel de Jong pulled one back for Milan in the 61st, just barely redirecting a free kick from Urby Emanuelson, and teenager Stephen El Shaarawy added his fifth of the season in the 79th to make for a tense finish.
Budget-stricken Milan, which let an entire squad's worth of players depart in the offseason, has lost five of its eight matches and trails Juve by 15 points. In Turin, Caceres was left unmarked to score from a header following a corner kick from Andrea Pirlo two minutes after he came on. Pogba, a midfielder who had also just come off the bench, scored with a long, bouncing volley to set off delirium inside the year-old Juventus Stadium, where the Turin club has yet to lose.
"It was a hard-fought match between two great squads," Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri said. "It seemed headed for a draw but a concentration lapse on our part allowed Juventus to open it up." Pogba left Manchester United after last season when his contract expired and signed a four-year deal with Juventus. "United is part of my past now," Pogba said. "I'm honored to play here. ... Milan and some English clubs also wanted me, but I chose Juve because so many French players have played here, like (Patrick) Vieira, who suggested I make this choice, (Michel) Platini, (Zinedine) Zidane and that's why I was attracted to this offer."
Napoli's victory in the Italian Cup final inflicted Juve's only loss last season. This was their second meeting this season, with Juventus beating Napoli 4-2 in the Italian Super Cup in Beijing in August, after which Napoli skipped the awards ceremony. AC Milan holds the record unbeaten streak in Serie A at 58 from 1991-93. Juventus next visits Danish side FC Nordsjaelland in the Champions League on Tuesday.
For this match, Juventus was missing two key players, with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon out due to a left thigh injury and forward Mirko Vucinic also left off the squad with a fever. Marco Storari started in goal for Juve, while Sebastian Giovinco and Fabio Quagliarella lined up in attack. Napoli responded with its usual 3-4-1-2 formation spearheaded by Marek Hamsik, Goran Pandev and Cavani.
While there was constant action, both sides struggled to create chances in the first half, as Juventus controlled possession early on and Napoli relied on counterattacks. Arturo Vidal fouled Gokhan Inler just outside Juve's area in the 26th and Cavani's ensuing free kick rounded a three-man wall and hit the crossbar. At the other end, Juve midfielder Claudio Marchisio shot high from beyond the area in first-half added time.
In the 49th, a free kick from Juve midfield maestro Pirlo deflected off Napoli's wall and goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis was able to stop it. With Juve picking up its pace, Giovinco had a good look at the goal in the 56th but shot wide. Alessandro Matri replaced Quagliarella on the hour and nearly scored six minutes later, but he couldn't reach a long, vertical pass with only De Sanctis to beat. In the 76th, Cavani missed an improbable volley from 30 meters (yards) and Juventus then took over.