2016/2017 Italian Serie A
  • Juan Cuadrado (7')

Juan Cuadrado fires Juventus past Sampdoria to maintain Serie A lead

Juan Cuadrado's seventh-minute goal helped Juventus preserve their dominant lead at the top of the Serie A table while ending Sampdoria's unbeaten run.

The 1-0 victory at the Marassi means Juve are once again 10 points clear of Napoli, who beat Empoli earlier on Sunday, with only nine games of the season remaining.

Chelsea loanee Cuadrado missed last week's victory over AC Milan but featured in the Champions League win over Porto, and that 45-minute outing put the energy in his legs he needed to race in behind the Samp back line and nod in a sumptuous Kwadwo Asamoah cross.

The Blucerchiati, who had won five and drawn two of their last seven games, offered little attacking threat but proved hard to break down, and they head into the international break occupying a comfortable ninth-place berth in the league.

Former Juve striker Fabio Quagliarella gave his old employers an early fright when he fizzed an angled drive past the far post in the sixth minute.

It was a false dawn for Samp, though, as the visitors responded by taking the lead. Asamoah's rainbow cross skipped into Cuadrado's trajectory and, after the flying Colombian dropped a shoulder to get past Vasco Regini, he headed the ball home from inside the six-yard box.

Juve almost doubled their lead when Mario Mandzukic aimed a boot at goalkeeper Christian Puggioni's poor clearance, but Bianconeri hitman Gonzalo Higuain accidentally blocked the shot on the goal-line.

Puggioni stood tall to deny Higuain with a fine stop some moments later and, on the brink of half-time, the former Chievo keeper leapt across his goal to punch the Argentinian's venomous left-footed effort to safety.

There was little to write home about in the second half, but shortly after the hour mark Gianluigi Buffon reached a personal milestone. The 39-year-old keeper became the Juve player with the most Serie A minutes -- 39,681 to be precise -- when the 65th minute ticked by.

An injury suffered by Samp's regular impact substitute Patrik Schick forced his premature removal, taking the sting out of their game plan and convincing Juve they could sleepwalk towards the three points.

They were nearly punished for their apathy when Dennis Praet got loose down the right before pinging a cross into the box that would have found the back of the net had any teammate made contact with it.

Praet, the Belgian winger, then caused more trouble for the Bianconeri when he picked out Quagliarella in a shooting position, but the wily forward shot over.