A first-half goal from Álvaro Morata was enough to give Juventus a narrow 1-0 win at home to Spezia in Serie A on Sunday as they tightened their hold on a Champions League spot.
In a game in which both teams struggled to keep up, Juve seemed nervous at times, but coach Massimilano Allegri praised his side’s determination in winning ugly.
“We needed to have scored a second in the first half. After the break we were tired, we came from intense matches and I couldn’t make any changes,” Allegri told DAZN.
“But to achieve our goals, this team needs to win badly and suffer and that’s what we did.”
The locals, who were close to a quarter of an hour through the mediation of midfielder Arthur Melo, took the lead in the 21st minute when the Brazilian took advantage of a poor clearance by Spezia goalkeeper Ivan Provedel, finishing off Manuel Locatelli on the edge of the area against El Italian fed Morata, who scored his first league goal since December.
Emmanuel Gyasi and Kevin Agudelo were parried by Wojciech Szczesny from close range after the break as Spezia looked for a way to get back into things.
Meanwhile, Morata missed a great chance to seal victory in stoppage time late in the game as Juventus held on to secure victory.
Juve advance to 53 points in fourth and last place in the Champions League, where they sit six points above fifth-placed Atalanta, who have a match to play.
The loss is the fourth in a row for Thiago Motta’s team, which is in 16th place: four points and two places above Venezia in the third and final relegation spot.
Earlier on Sunday, Venezia were beaten 4-1 at home by Sassuolo in a game that saw four penalties awarded: three, all scored, to the visitors and one to Venezia, which he missed.
Genoa, second bottom, drew their sixth consecutive game in Serie A, playing a 0-0 home win against Empoli.