Sampdoria 1-3 Juventus: Morata brace secures another Serie A win for Bianconeri
Juventus secured a 3-1 win away at Sampdoria on Saturday to move within a point of third-placed Napoli in Serie A.
An own goal from Maya Yoshida and an Alvaro Morata brace were enough to give all three points to Massimiliano Allegri's side at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, despite a late strike from Abdelhamid Sabiri.
The hosts had previously squandered a golden chance to get back into the game in the second half when Wojciech Szczesny saved Antonio Candreva's penalty, sealing the win and giving the Bianconeri momentum going into their Champions League last-16 second leg against Villarreal on Wednesday.
Likely with that game in mind, Dusan Vlahovic started on the bench as Moise Kean was given a start alongside Morata.
It was a quiet opening to the game, with the first shot on target from either team coming from Candreva in the 22nd minute, which was palmed away by Szczesny.
However, Juve went straight up the other end and took the lead as Juan Cuadrado's cross from the right was turned into his own net by Yoshida.
Bizarrely, Allegri's men were ahead before they had taken a single shot at goal, and their first effort of the game made it 2-0 as Morata coolly slotted home from the spot after Omar Colley had clumsily brought down Kean in the box.
A listless second half finally came to life when Adrien Rabiot was judged to have handled in the box, but Szczesny got a good hand to Candreva's spot kick down to his right to briefly keep it at 2-0.
The Polish shot-stopper could do nothing about Sabiri's free-kick in the 84th minute, which deflected in off substitute Vlahovic to give the home side late hope, but Juve had their two-goal cushion back shortly after when Morata headed in Manuel Locatelli's cross at the back post to seal victory.
What does it mean? Bianconeri on the march
It was not a classic Juve performance and they rode their luck at times, but Allegri's men are creeping into the race for the Scudetto, whether their manager is willing to admit it or not.
In 2022, Juventus have gained the most points in Serie A: 22 (W6, D4) and are one of five teams in the big five European leagues still unbeaten in this calendar year (along with Sevilla, Liverpool, Barcelona and Newcastle).
They sit one point off Napoli, two behind Inter and four adrift of Milan, albeit having played more games than all three, but in a topsy-turvy season, a few more wins on the bounce will likely see them in the mix as the campaign heads into the home straight.
Juve strong on the road once again
This makes it nine Serie A away games undefeated for Juve (W6 D3), having not lost since the defeat to Verona in late October.
The last time they went nine matches unbeaten was between December 2017 and March 2019 when, during Allegri's first stint in charge in Turin, they went 26 away games in a row without defeat.
Samp lose again
Sampdoria will wonder how they managed to lose this by two goals after having 16 shots to Juve's six, but ultimately it was down to wastefulness and sloppy defending.
Marco Giampaolo's men have now lost nine of their last 11 games in all competitions (W2) and have a crucial trip to 18th placed Venezia next weekend, sitting just four points ahead having played two games more.
Sampdoria travel to Venezia next Sunday while Juventus host Salernitana on the same day after their Champions League second leg at home to Villarreal on Wednesday.