MILAN — Juventus moved to the top of Serie A after struggling to beat nine-man Chievo Verona 2-0 on Saturday.
Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain scored for the six-time defending champion after Samuel Bastien and Fabrizio Cacciatore were sent off.
Juventus moved two points ahead of Napoli, which hosts Bologna on Sunday.
“We need to be quicker in building play, we need to play at a higher tempo … and we need to improve our quality, playing more vertically and less horizontally,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
Neither side created anything of note before Chievo midfielder Bastien was sent off in the 37th minute, following two yellow cards in quick succession.
Matters went from bad to worse for Chievo shortly after the hour when it was given another needless red card. Cacciatore continued complaining to the referee after not being awarded a free kick following a crunching tackle. The referee told the defender to go to the sidelines as the medical staff had come on to treat him and he was then seen clearly making a handcuffs gesture.
The referee showed him a straight red card.
“We certainly did silly mistakes and that punished us,” Chievo coach Rolando Maran said. “But I’m very angry about Cacciatore’s sending off. The referee told him he had to go off, but the medical staff had never reached him. … Then the player was wrong, but the mistake was brought about by the wrong decision, in my opinion, by the referee.”
The handcuffs gesture was made famous by then Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho in February 2010 when he protested a decision to send off one of his players against Sampdoria. Mourinho was banned for three matches and fined 40,000 euros ($50,000).
A similar gesture cost Empoli defender Lorenzo Tonelli three matches in 2016 after being sent off.
Juventus broke the deadlock in the 67th. Khedira started the move and picked out Federico Bernardeschi, who cut the ball back for the onrushing German World Cup winner to blast into the back of the net.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Chievo went close to levelling before Higuain headed in Douglas Costa’s precise cross two minutes from time.
Atalanta eased past Sassuolo 3-0 to move up to seventh in the standings, a point outside the Europa League qualifying berths.
Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli was at fault for the opening goal as he flapped at a free kick which was crossed in from the left and Andrea Masiello headed into an empty net.
Matteo Politano almost leveled at the start of the second half but his effort crashed off the left upright.
Bryan Cristante got on the scoresheet seven minutes from time.
Shortly after, Atalanta got the benefit of VAR when Remo Freuler’s goal was awarded after it was initially ruled out by the linesman.
Sassuolo defender Edoardo Goldaniga was sent off following a second yellow card in stoppage time to complete the home side’s misery.
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