Juventus’ goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon reacts during the Italian Serie A football match Juventus Vs As Roma on December 17, 2016 at the ‘Juventus Stadium’ in Turin.
MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP
Captain Gianluigi Buffon hailed a “fundamental” win for Juventus after Gonzalo Higuain’s first-half strike secured a 1-0 victory over Roma and sent the champions seven points clear at the top on Saturday.
“It’s a fundamental win for us because the championship still has a long way to go,” Juventus goalkeeper Buffon told Mediaset.
“It gives us some more belief and a bit of a cushion that allows us to head into the Christmas period feeling great.”
Roma travelled to Turin determined to reduce their four-point deficit to the five-time consecutive Serie A champions in the penultimate league fixture before the Christmas break.
But the visitors paid the price when Daniele De Rossi failed to deal with Higuain on the quarter-hour, the Argentine muscling his way past to beat Wojciech Szczesny with a superb strike inside the ‘keeper’s near post.
Despite an improved second half performance from Luciano Spalletti’s men, Roma failed in their attempt to beat the champions in a league fixture for the first time since 2010.
Juventus, meanwhile, celebrated a 25th Serie A home win in a row — matching their own all-time league record from August 2013 to December 2014.
But Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri said titles, not records, is all that interests him. Juventus, the league and Cup champions, face Cup finalists AC Milan in Doha for the Italian Super Cup on Friday.
“It was important for us to get the right result. We’ve left Roma seven points behind us, but the championship is still long,” said Allegri, who was quick to pour water on Juve’s latest record-equalling feat.
“That doesn’t interest me, the important thing is to finish top of the table at the end of the season.
“Now, we want to head to Doha in good physical condition.”
Roma remain second but at seven points behind the pundits in Italy have been quick to suggest Juventus already have the title sewn up.
Spalletti did not agree, but admitted it’s crunch time.
“We will have to bounce back from this and do really well if we’re to close the gap,” said the Italian, who had Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny to thank for keeping the score down in the second half.
He added: “Juventus were better than us individually, they showed how strong they are tonight.
“We did well to close down some of their attacks but we were lacking quality in our final touches.”
It is Juve’s third consecutive league win since a shock 3-1 defeat to Genoa last month which gave hope to the likes of Roma and Milan.
Buffon added: “After what happened in Genoa the real, stubborn and determined Juventus was pushed to the fore.
“That’s what we saw tonight, we won as a team.”