Milan: Strikes in either half from Carlos Tevez and Claudio Marchisio sent champions Juventus joint top of Italy's Serie A thanks to a 2-0 home win over Udinese.
Juventus' forward Carlos Tevez (3rd R) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Udinese in Turin. Pic/AFP
Roma had gone provisionally top earlier thanks to a 1-0 away win at promoted Empoli but Rudi Garcia's men, last season's runners-up, dropped to second on goal difference. The remainder of the weekend's fixtures will be played on Sunday and Monday, when Milan and Napoli, notably, will be looking to keep the pace in their respective games away to Parma and at home to Chievo.
Yet only two games in, Juve and Roma -- who are both in action in the Champions League in midweek -- have already set out their stall. Udinese's hopes of building on their 2-0 home win over Empoli, thanks to a brace from veteran striker Antonio Di Natale, were soon kept in check.
Juve were unbeaten at home all of last season and after just eight minutes an alert Tevez pounced on a cutback from Stephane Lichsteiner to fire through one defender's legs and beat 'keeper Orestis Karnezis from 18 metres out. Juventus 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon was given little to worry him in the opening half, and only a correct off-side decision halfway through the second period prevented Udinese from claiming a well-worked equaliser.
Defender Igor Bubnjic was well-placed when he got on the end of Danilo's drive from the edge of the area to beat Buffon from close range, but the goal was correctly ruled offside. Minutes later Tevez forced Karnezis to parry his angled drive from the right of goal after being set up by Llorente as the Udinese defence stalled. The hosts had the momentum and Tevez turned provider in the 75th minute, setting up Marchisio on the edge of the area to beat Karnezis with the outside of his boot.
Tevez was soon replaced by Kingsley Coman in the closing minutes and the young Frenchman was involved as fellow substitute Alvaro Morata, who had replaced Llorente to make his Juve debut, spurned the chance for a memorable maiden goal when he shot straight at Karnezis from 12 metres out. Earlier, an own goal by Empoli 'keeper Luigi Sepe gave Roma the points four days before the Giallorossi make their much-awaited return to European competition at home against CSKA Moscow.
Roma coach Rudi Garcia opted to rest a number of first team regulars for their first away trip of the season, including Ivorian striker Gervinho and iconic playmaker Francesco Totti. Garcia, who as coach of Lille faced CSKA in the 2011/2012 competition, admitted the mood in the camp is buoyant. "The Champions League is a fantastic competition. I've already experienced it as coach of Lille," Garcia told Sky Sports.
"The players are also looking forward to playing in Europe again, but tonight our minds were on Empoli. "They played well and are not an easy side to play against. Some teams who come here are going to struggle."
Roma made the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time. Radja Nainggolan collected a cross from the right and had time and space to unleash a bouncing strike from 25 metres that came off post and 'keeper before landing in the far corner of the net. It should have been the Belgian's second goal of the campaign after his strike in a 2-0 win over Fiorentina last week, but it was ruled an own goal.