- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

MILAN (AP) - Andrea Pirlo’s late goal saw Juventus maintain its charge to a third successive Serie A title as it beat Genoa 1-0 on Sunday to extend its lead to 17 points.

Pirlo fired home a free kick two minutes from time as Juventus struggled to a victory after Gianluigi Buffon had saved Emanuele Calaio’s penalty.

Roma, which hosts Udinese on Monday, has two games in hand on Antonio Conte’s men.

“Only a great team could come here and win on this pitch against this team, which had the game of their lives,” Conte said. “I don’t want to say how close we are to the title, I hope to win it, but we are having an extraordinarily fantastic championship.”

Third-place Napoli visits Torino on Monday and is seven points ahead of Fiorentina, which beat Chievo Verona 3-1.

Earlier, AC Milan fought back from two goals down but lost 4-2 at home to Parma after playing almost the entire match with 10 men.

Elsewhere, bottom club Sassuolo beat 19th-place Catania 3-1 and nine-man Livorno beat Bologna 2-1 in tense relegation battles.

Bologna has replaced Livorno in the bottom three.

Lazio won 2-0 at Catania while Atalanta eased to a 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

Juventus striker Pablo Osvaldo had two goals ruled out for tight offside decisions in a fiery first half.

Genoa had the best chance to break the deadlock when it was awarded a penalty in the 71st minute after Arturo Vidal had handled in the area, but Buffon dove smartly to his left to deny Calaio. It was a fitting way to mark Buffon’s 476th appearance for Juventus, which matches legendary goalkeeper Dino Zoff’s tally.

And Juventus stole all three points when Pirlo curled a trademark free kick into the top left corner.

Fiorentina ended a run of four games without a win as Chievo wasted a number of chances.

It took the lead when Juan Guillermo Cuadrado passed to David Pizarro, then raced into the area to volley the return ball into the back of the net.

Alessandro Matri doubled Fiorentina’s advantage after some great work by Anderson and, although Alberto Paloschi grabbed one back for Chievo, Mario Gomez sealed the result with his first league goal since returning from a lengthy spell out with injury.

Pizarro also had a penalty saved by Chievo goalkeeper Michael Agazzi.

In Milan, there were protests outside San Siro before and after the match, while Mario Balotelli was booed almost every time he touched the ball.

Balotelli was among a delegation from Milan which held a brief meeting with the ultras after the match. Milan coach Clarence Seedorf - who was shown support during the match by the fans - was also present.

“They are always delicate situations,” Seedorf said. “It was a peaceful meeting between people who have this shirt and this club in their hearts. We all want the best for this club in a period where things aren’t going well.”

Former Milan striker Antonio Cassano scored a brace, including a penalty after Rossoneri goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was sent off in the fifth minute for bringing down Ezequiel Schelotto.

Substitute Adil Rami’s header and a penalty from Balotelli saw Milan pull level but Amauri and Jonathan Biabiany secured the win for Parma.

At the other end of the table, Sassuolo picked up its first win in nine matches.

Catania, which had earlier hit the post, went in front on the half hour as Gonzalo Bergessio beat the offside trap and placed an angled drive into the far corner.

Halftime substitute Simone Zaza leveled for Sassuolo, which took the lead when Simone Missiroli was allowed a free header on a corner.

Sassuolo was dominating and Nicola Sansone sealed the match two minutes from time.

Sassuolo swapped places with Catania at the foot of the standings and is three points from safety after Livorno’s win.

Marco Benassi and Paulinho scored at the start of the second half but Ibrahima Mbaye was sent off with 10 minutes remaining after a second yellow card for handball.

Innocent Emeghara was also dismissed for Livorno following another booking for a foul on Archimede Morleo five minutes from time and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos converted the resulting penalty.

Livorno had squandered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 last weekend, but held on for a vital three points.



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