Juventus beat Crotone to extend Serie A lead

Juventus' players celebrate at the end of the Italian Serie A match. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Rome, Metropolitan City of Rome, Italy Feb 08, 2017, 09.49 PM (IST)

Champions Juventus extended their lead at the top of Serie A to seven points with a comfortable 2-0 win at lowly Crotone on Wednesday.

Having seen their lead cut by Roma's 4-0 success over Fiorentina on Tuesday, second-half goals from Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain kept Massimiliano Allegri's team on course for a sixth straight scudetto.

"We could have done better in the first half, especially in the speed of our passing, but overall we were organised, giving away little or nothing and approaching the game with lucidity and organisation," said Allegri.

"Roma and Napoli (third at nine points) are playing well, but we're thinking about keeping our concentration on what we have to do.

"Also tonight, for example, we didn't concede a goal and that's something positive."

The defeat leaves Crotone languishing in 19th place and nine points from safety.

The Calabrians did not disgrace themselves and proved stubborn opposition for an hour.

But they ran out of steam as Croatian Mandzukic converted a rebound following a header from Kwadwo Asamoah on 60 minutes.

With 16 minutes left, Higuain calmly slotted home when faced with only goalkeeper Alex Cordaz to beat.

That took his season's tally to 16 league goals, just one shy of Serie A's top scorer Edin Dzeko, who bagged a brace for Roma on Tuesday.

"We knew it wouldn't be easy. We expected Crotone to get behind the ball, making it difficult to get forward and find the man between the lines," said Juve centre-back Leonardo Bonucci.

"In the first half our tempo was low, but as Allegri said, we did well to remain patient, like we did against Inter and as we will have to in the next few games."

Later on Wednesday, AC Milan are looking to end a three-match losing streak and resurrect their fading hopes of qualifying for Europe as they travel to Bologna, themselves smarting from a 7-1 rout by Napoli at the weekend.

Milan currently sit seventh, five points behind bitter city rivals Inter Milan in the last Europa League qualification spot.