|The win moves Juve to the top with a game in hand [GALLO/GETTY]|
A first-half goal from Simone Pepe sent Juventus back to the top of Italy’s Serie A on Saturday as they edged third-placed Lazio 1-0 in an entertaining encounter at the Stadio Olimpico.
Pepe stroked home the winner after 34 minutes to take unbeaten Juve, who have played one game less than most of their rivals, a point clear of Udinese and three ahead of Lazio.
Napoli climbed to seventh after an Edinson Cavani strike deep into stoppage time earned a 1-1 draw at Atalanta who had taken a 64th-minute lead thanks to German Denis’s 10th league goal of the campaign.
Catania moved up to sixth with a 1-0 at Lecce while struggling Novara came back from a goal down to beat Parma 2-1 and record their second league win this season.
Pretty in pink
Juve, wearing pink jerseys, began brightly and should have been a goal to the good after 10 minutes when Claudio Marchisio headed over from close range following a brilliant run and cross from former Lazio right back Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Six minutes later hosts Lazio had Federico Marchetti to thank for keeping the scores level after the goalkeeper changed direction at the last moment to palm away a viciously swerving Andrea Pirlo free kick.
Lazio, with Tommaso Rocchi preferred to Djibril Cisse as Miroslav Klose’s partner in attack, hit back after 21 minutes as Rocchi and Cristian Ledesma just missed the target.
With the game flowing from one end to the other it was Juve who made the breakthrough after a lightning counter-attack.
Seconds after Gianluigi Buffon saved from Rocchi, Mirko Vucinic released Alessandro Matri down the right and the Italian striker’s perfect centre was slotted into the corner by the sliding Pepe.
Brazilian playmaker Hernanes wasted two good openings as Lazio attacked at the start of the second period before he smashed a left-footer against the upright on the hour with Buffon beaten.
Seconds later the Italy keeper flung himself to his left to turn aside a deflected Klose effort.
Juve weathered the storm and almost doubled the lead after 73 minutes when Marchetti reacted well to save from substitute Emanuele Giaccherini.
Matri then flashed a half-volley wide with eight minutes to go as the visitors eased to their seventh win in 11 league matches.