Milan (AFP) – Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain scored as champions Juventus went top in Serie A with a 2-0 win at nine-man Chievo on Saturday.
The side from Verona played the last half hour two men down after Samuel Bastien and Fabrizio Cacciatore were both needlessly sent off at the Bentegodi Stadium.
The two-man advantage spurred on Juventus who move two points clear of Napoli at the top of the league after 22 games but Maurizio Sarri’s side can reclaim the lead when they host Bologna on Sunday.
Juventus had difficultly getting past Chievo, who despite their 13th position held on in the first half before Bastien was sent off on 36 minutes after two yellow cards in the space of just two minutes, both for fouling Kwadwo Asamoah.
Cacciatore followed on the hour mark for dissent.
Five minutes later Khedira picked up a Federico Bernardeschi cross to fire in the opener with Higuain breaking his goal drought, picking up a Douglas Costa cross to head in his tenth goal of the campaign with two minutes to go.
“Chievo defended well and it was difficult for us to find the spaces,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“Once at eleven against nine it was easier, it took only a little patience. It was a beautiful and important victory, especially because it comes away.”
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon sat on the bench on his return after two months out with a calf injury on the eve of his 40th birthday.
“What will I give to Buffon for 40 years?” said Allegri. “That the next 40 are better than the previous ones.
“Gigi is an extraordinary champion. We’re happy that he’s back and on Tuesday (Italian Cup) he will start.”
Earlier Atalanta, who Juventus meet in next week’s Italian Cup semi-finals, maintained their push for Europe with a comfortable 3-0 win at Sassuolo, to move ahead of AC Milan who host Lazio on Sunday.
“Atalanta are in a great period of form and we need to put in a strong performance,” added Allegri.