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Mertens brace takes Napoli up to second in Serie A

07 May 2017

06/05/2017 Juventus' Mario Mandzukic and Torino's goalkeeper Joe Hart in action.

Juve coach Allegri, whose side take on Monaco in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, was in upbeat mood after the game but acknowledged his side lacked composure in their attacking play.

The six-cap Brazil international's attacking instincts are no great secret - he can operate as a full-back, wing-back or a midfielder and has nabbed two goals and four assists in Serie A already this term - and they were on show once again against the French outfit, creating one chance, completing two dribbles and having the second-most touches of the ball of any Juventus player.

Juve are now eight points clear of Napoli and nine clear AS Roma with three games remaining in the season.

The veteran keeper's cause is significantly aided by the defence in front of him, which Conte initially shaped as a back three but is often converted to a back four by Allegri.

Despite losing key midfielders Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo, however, they have become arguably an even better team since then, and the next few weeks could see them reach the very summit.

But Argentine striker Higuain smashed in a low finish on 91 minutes to preserve their unbeaten home record.

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Make no mistake about it, full-backs are becoming arguably the most important players on the pitch in the modern game.

Juventus moved 10 points clear of Roma, which needs to at least draw at AC Milan on Sunday to avoid handing the Bianconeri the title.

Earlier, Dries Mertens hit a brace on his 30th birthday to maintain his own bid for the top goalscorer's award as Napoli cruised to past the Sardinians at the San Paolo.

Mertens got Napoli off to a flying start when he turned in Faouzi Ghoulam's cross after two minutes.

Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and captain Marek Hamsik, with a spectacular lob from midfield that nearly beat out-of-position 'keeper Rafael, all came close in a one-sided opening half.

Mertens and Insigne were given standing ovations when they were replaced in the final 15 minutes. And although the club has always protested its innocence, it took a while both to fix their reputation and restore their standards on the field of play.

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Mertens brace takes Napoli up to second in Serie A