Juventus eases to 3-1 win at Cagliari to ensure it ends year at top of Serie A


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MILAN — Juventus eased to a 3-1 win at relegation-threatened Cagliari on Thursday to ensure it ended the year at the top of the Serie A standings.

Early goals from Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal gave Juventus a comfortable lead in the opening 15 minutes, and Fernando Llorente sealed the match shortly after halftime.

Luca Rossettini bagged a consolation goal for Cagliari.

Juventus moved provisionally four points ahead of Roma, which hosts AC Milan on Saturday.

Cagliari, which is the only Serie A side without a home win this season, remained in the bottom three.

The match, which was part of the final round of fixtures before the winter break, was brought forward because Juventus plays Napoli in the rearranged Italian Supercup on Monday.

Napoli beat bottom side Parma 2-0 and moved provisionally third, in a tight battle for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

After seeing its advantage cut to one point last weekend with its second successive draw, Juventus' determination to end the year on a high received the perfect start when Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno could only parry Giorgio Chiellini's effort and Tevez was on hand to tap the ball in, less than four minutes in.

More poor defending saw Juventus double its advantage as Cagliari failed to deal with a cross and the ball came out to Vidal, who curled a magnificent strike into the far corner from just outside the box.

Llorente extended Juve's lead six minutes after the break when he gathered Andrea Pirlo's lofted pass with his back to goal, swiveled, and fired under Cragno's body.

Cagliari hadn't scored for three matches but managed in the 65th, as Rossettini headed home Andrea Cossu's free kick.

In Naples, Duvan Zapata fired the home side in front in the 19th minute, after using his strength to hold off defenders as he turned in the box.

Not long after, Napoli doubled its lead from the penalty spot after Massimo Gobbi brought down Jose Callejon. Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante couldn't get enough of his hand to Dries Mertens' spot kick.

It was a 13th defeat in 16 matches for Parma, which also had a point docked because of financial irregularities.

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