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2015/2016 Italian Serie A
  • Nikola Kalinic (81')
  • Mario Mandzukic (39')
  • Alvaro Morata (83')

Juventus move to brink of fifth straight title with Morata, Mandzukic goals

Juventus could be crowned Serie A champions for the fifth year in a row on Monday after emerging victorious from a gritty encounter with Fiorentina.

A 2-1 victory at the Stadio Artemio Franchi pushed Juve 12 points clear ahead of second-placed Napoli, who must triumph at Roma to retain any mathematical chance of catching the leaders, although this Scudetto is realistically beyond their grasp.

Gianluigi Buffon once again played the role of saviour for the Bianconeri with a double save from Nikola Kalinic's last-gasp penalty to secure all three points.

Juve were certainly made to battle hard for the vital win -- Kalinic had responded to Mario Mandzukic's opening rocket before substitute Alvaro Morata managed to stab home the winner.

Professionalism will forbid Juve from celebrating yet another title win on Sunday evening, but come mid-afternoon on Liberation Day there will almost certainly be exuberant festivities on the streets of Turin.

Determined to avoid suffering the ignominy of allowing Juve to celebrate a title party at their base, Fiorentina took their bitter rivals to task from the start.

Their first-half performance merited at least one goal and it was only through a dubious decision that they trailed at the break.

Juve were the first team to have a goal disallowed as Sami Khedira was offside when converting Mandzukic's flick-on in the 16th minute.

Moments later Fiorentina had the ball in the back of the net through Federico Bernardeschi - the young Italy striker looked to have been level with Juve's last man when receiving Josip Ilicic's pass and clipping home, but the linesman ruled otherwise.

They did not let their heads drop and laid siege to the visitors' goal, with Buffon called into action to deny Bernardeschi and Cristian Tello, while Milan Badelj was unfortunate to miss the target with a searing daisy-cutter.

Juve's stunning opening goal arrived powerfully against the run of play.

Khedira delivered the lofted cross into the box that found Pogba, who opted to find a teammate rather than control the ball and try his luck. That decision proved to be a good one as his headed lay-off found Mandzukic's left boot for a thunderous volley into the bottom corner.

Fiorentina were visibly frustrated but bared their teeth in the last minutes of the half as Bernardeschi sent Buffon sprawling with a low shot.

The Tuscans carried their grit into the second half and, after Pogba came close for Juve, both Kalinic and Mauro Zarate got Buffon working to tip fiercely-struck shots around his posts.

Despite the best defensive efforts of Massimiliano Allegri's men, Fiorentina continued to cause the champions-elect more trouble than most in the final third and they got their reward in the 82nd minute.

An egregious error by Leonardo Bonucci allowed Zarate to tee up Kalinic for a sweet drive that left Buffon stranded.

But when things go against Juve they regularly hit back without mercy and only 90 seconds later the away end was sent bouncing once again.

The scruffiest goal of the three was the most important to the outcome -- of the match and the season -- as Morata stabbed Patrice Evra's repelled shot over the line to bamboozle Ciprian Tatarusanu.

There was to be one last twist in a game which had kept fans guessing throughout.

Kalinic went to ground in the box rather easily under the attentions of Juan Cuadrado but, to the horror of the away following, referee Paolo Tagliavento awarded a spot-kick.

Buffon guessed correctly, leaping to his left to deny Kalinic before parrying Bernardeschi's follow-up to further embellish his hero status with Juventus fans.

Then, in stoppage time, Kalinic headed onto the bar from close range as the Viola's last chance went begging.