TURIN :Juventus continued their march up the Serie A standings with a 1-0 win over AS Roma in Turin on Sunday, as Moise Kean’s unorthodox early goal sealed a fourth consecutive league win for the Turin club.
Rodrigo Bentancur’s header ricocheted off Kean’s head and into the back of the net after 16 minutes in the game’s decisive moment.
But Jose Mourinho’s side were furious when Tammy Abraham put the ball in the net but the goal was not allowed to stand because referee Daniele Orsato had already whistled for a penalty. Jordan Veretout took it and his effort was saved by Wojciech Szczesny.
“I knew it would be complicated. Roma certainly would have fully deserved a draw because they played a great match," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri told DAZN.
“These games are decided by episodes and they went our way tonight fortunately, but also because when you play as a team with the right spirit, things go your way."
Juve are seventh with 14 points, level with Lazio and Atalanta above them and one point behind fourth-placed Roma.
The result continues their recovery from a shock failure to win any of their opening four league matches.
It also marked Juve's third consecutive 1-0 win and a seventh game in a row unbeaten in all competitions.
Asked if it is his preferred scoreline, Allegri said: "It is a nice result, because it is the third time we have not conceded a goal."
Allegri was missing several players through injury like Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt and Adrien Rabiot, pushing him to select seven Italians, the highest number in a Juve starting lineup in Serie A since May 2015.
His selection soon paid off when the hosts took the lead in unusual fashion.
Kean and Bentancur both leapt to meet a cross, and the Uruguayan midfielder headed it off his team mate’s head and into the back of the net.
Things got worse for Roma when Nicolo Zaniolo limped off with an injury, but they thought they had drawn level when chaos erupted at the end of the first half.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was felled as he dinked the ball over Szczesny inside the box, and Abraham was on hand to fire in the loose ball.
But Roma were awarded a penalty rather than a goal, as referee Daniele Orsato had blown his whistle between the goalkeeper’s foul and Abraham’s finish.
Veretout's spot kick was saved by Szczesny, who dived to his left to palm it away, the first unsuccessful penalty of the French midfielder’s spell at Roma on his 14th attempt.
“I do not want to comment on the penalty incident, I have not seen it. I want to isolate myself from this episode and focus on what my team did," Mourinho told DAZN.
Big chances were few and far between after the break.
Federico Bernardeschi’s spectacular overhead kick was spilled by Rui Patricio and Kean fired over the rebound, before Bernardeschi and Veretout fired narrowly wide with long-range efforts.
Mourinho threw on an extra striker, Eldor Shomurodov, for the final 10 minutes in search of an equaliser, but they could not find a way through a defensive wall marshalled by Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
“There was great confidence and courage, obviously it is a defeat but if I look at the overall project, it went well," Mourinho added.
"I could be wrong or have a different opinion, but the team that deserved to win lost. That is football.”
(Reporting by Alasdair MackenzieEditing by Toby Davis)