juventus napoli italy soccer.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

Substitute Simone Zaza scored a late winner Saturday for champions Juventus to help them beat Napoli 1-0 and leapfrog them atop the Italian Serie A.

The striker came on for the lacklustre Alvaro Morata in the 58th minute and found the net with two minutes left, stunning Pepe Reina as defender Raul Albiol slightly deflected the drive.

"I hope that my goal will be decisive for the league," Zaza said. "Now it is up to us because we are at the top. I was lucky and clever. I hope this is a crucial win for the remainder of the season.

"I am happy about what I have done [being fielded seldom]. If we continue on like this, no one can take the title from us."

Juve, who lifted the past four titles, started poorly in the current season but sit now on 57 points from 25 games after a run of 15 straight wins. Napoli stayed on 56, ending a run of eight victories.

The Turin hosts pressed hard in the first half but never truly worried Reina, who saved drives from Juan Cuadrado and Claudio Marchisio as Paulo Dybala had an effort deflected and Paul Pogba misfired in a couple of occasions.

In the other goal, Juve captain Gianluigi Buffon only had to thank his defender Leonardo Bonucci for tipping a cross in the 35th minute that Gonzalo Higuain could have headed in.

Dybala fired narrowly high in the 62nd off a Pogba assist, and Marek Hamsik fired over 10 minutes from time as Napoli played a more aggressive second half.

The in-form Zaza, however, proved effective upfront and got the crucial winner after handling a ball outside the box.

Chievo and Sassuolo drew 1-1 earlier Saturday with Valter Birsa converting a penalty to hand Chievo the lead in the 29th minute, only for Nicola Sansone to level within a minute with a long-range drive into the top corner.

Sassulo stay in eighth position with 35 points from 25 games, and Chievo sit 10th, four points further back.

Empoli are ninth on 34 after being stunned 2-1 at home by struggling Frosinone, who remained third from last on 22 points in the relegation zone despite a first away win sealed by a Daniel Ciofani brace.

The tall striker nodded home 17 minutes into the first half and converted a penalty on 73 after Massimo Maccarone levelled for the hosts on the hour.

Lazio opened the round Thursday with a 5-2 win over Verona, while Roma won 3-1 at Carpi Friday.

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