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Juve edge past Palermo

MILAN, Dec 10, 2012, Reuters:

Juventus coach Antonio Conte enjoyed a winning return to the touchline after his four-month ban on Sunday as the Serie A leaders won 1-0 at Palermo while Inter Milan's pulsating 2-1 win over Napoli took them second.

Stephan Lichtsteiner scored Juve's winner early in the second half of a game in which both teams struggled on a difficult pitch that cut up badly following a hailstorm at halftime.

Inter's Colombian Fredy Guarin scored the first goal and set up a second for Diego Milito as they took a 2-0 halftime lead against Napoli, who had started the weekend in second.

Edinson Cavani pulled one back for the visitors early in the second half, the Uruguayan's 11th league goal of the season, and the rest of the match was an end-to-end affair in which almost every attack produced a chance.

AC Milan continued their revival with a third league win in a row, coming from behind to win 4-2 at Torino with goals from Robinho, Antonio Nocerino, Giampaolo Pazzini and Stephan El Shaaraway.

Their celebrations were dampened by an injury to their Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong, who ruptured an Achilles tendon and was ruled out for the rest of the season, while Robinho and Philippe Mexes were involved in a heated row on the pitch at the end.

Pescara beat Genoa 2-0 in a clash of two teams stuck in the relegation zone and two goals from Gonzalo Bergessio gave Catania their first away win of the season, 3-1 at Siena.

Juve's victory, their 12th in 16 league games, took them on to 38 points, four ahead of Inter with Napoli a further point back in third place.

“The last four months have been painful,” Juve coach Conte told reporters. “It's hard to be kept out of the 90 minutes after you have prepared the team with passion and enthusiasm.”

Conte was initially banned for 10 months in August for failing to report a match-fixing attempt when he was coach at Siena in Serie B, but his suspension was later reduced to four months on appeal.

Palermo playmaker Fabrizio Miccoli had a first-half goal disallowed for offside before Switzerland full-back Lichtsteiner settled the match following a clever backheel by Mirko Vucinic five minutes after the restart.

Guarin, one of seven South Americans in Inter's starting line-up, opened the scoring in the eighth minute at freezing San Siro when he volleyed home Antonio Cassano's corner at the far post.


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