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Soccer: Conte demands more after Juve extend lead

Coach berates his side for conceding goal, not scoring more

03 February, 18:45
Soccer: Conte demands more after Juve extend lead (By Paul Virgo) (ANSA) - Rome, February 3 - Any notions that Juventus might ease up after moving nine points clear at the top of Serie A were quickly squashed by coach Antonio Conte following his side's 3-1 thrashing of Inter Milan Sunday.

Instead of heaping praise upon his side, who are aiming to bag a third consecutive league title under him, Conte berated them for relaxing after they went 3-0 up early in the second half.

Having played fluid, confident soccer up to that time, the Turin giants misplaced several passes, wasted some chances to extend their lead and let Inter's Portuguese defender Rolando pull a goal back in the 72nd minute.

Inter's Argentine forward Rodrigo Palacio even had the chance to set up an exciting finale, but he headed over from a good position.

"You have to keep up the level of concentration until the end," said former Italy midfielder Conte, a key part of the Juve won five Serie A titles and a Champions League between 1992 and 2004. "It only takes a moment to complicate things. I was sorry about the goal we conceded and we could have scored more although, overall, the performance was good". Juve were able to extend their lead with goals by Stefan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal and Giorgio Chiellini after second-placed Roma's home game against Parma was called off because of torrential rain in the Italian capital. The leaders have 59 points from 22 games and Roma, who will play Parma in March or April, 50 from 21.

Conte's side have now put three goals or more past all of Serie A's other big sides - Inter, AC Milan, Napoli and Inter - in league matches this season.

And what is alarming for their rivals is that Juve reinforced their already strong attack by signing Italy forward Pablo Daniel Osvaldo from Southampton on the last day of the January transfer window on Friday.

Conte did not include Osvaldo in his squad for the Inter match, as he was not fully fit after being suspended by Southampton last month for fighting with a team mate in training.

Osvaldo may find it hard to usurp Juve's current striker pecking order though, given the good form of Argentine Carlos Tevez and Spain forward Fernando Llorente. Swiss defender Lichtsteiner said Juve have their sights on winning everything they can and are not snubbing the Europa League, which they dropped into after failing to progress from the Champions League group stage. "We want to go on to big things in Europe, too," Lichtsteiner said, with Juve facing Turkish side Trabzonspor in the Europa League round of 32 later this month.

"Everyone views us as favourites, but we know it won't be easy. "We'll do our best, we've got no intentions of letting up in any competition". The final of this season's Europa League will be held at Juve's home ground.

Sunday's result leaves sixth-placed Inter, who have no realistic chance of winning a trophy this season after being knocked out of the Italian Cup, in a full-blown form crisis.

The three-time European champions, who were taken over by Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir in November, have picked up just eight points from their last 10 games.

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