Buffon returns in Juventus victory
Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made a triumphant return Saturday, making several crucial saves in a 1-0 win over Fiorentina to move Juventus atop the Serie A standings.
Buffon missed four months with a back injury before making an appearance in last week's Italian Cup. Then he came down with a fever.
But with Alex Manninger still hobbling with a knee injury, Buffon was summoned and made his most important save in the 71st minute when Manuel Pasqual crossed to Alberto Gilardino at the near post and Buffon deftly pushed his low shot away.
Juventus leads Inter Milan in the standings on goal difference as both teams have 43 points. Inter Milan can regain the overall lead with a tie or win Sunday against Sampdoria.
AC Milan is third overall with 37 points, two more than Genoa.
In the only other match Saturday, Vincenzo Italiano scored a spectacular last-minute winner as Chievo Verona beat Reggina 1-0, leaving Reggina last overall.
Claudio Marchisio's first league goal for Juventus came when he ran down a pass from Alessandro Del Piero and lifted a shot past Fiorentina goalkeeper Sebastien Frey in the 21st minute.
"Really, it is great," Marchisio said. "I have to thank Alex [Del Piero] who provided a great assist. We know it is an important goal and now tomorrow we'll see how Inter do."
Mario Santana nearly tied it for Cesare Prandelli's side but his header went off the crossbar. Gilardino then had a goal called back due to a mistaken offside call.
"Mistakes happen and sometimes they help your team," said Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri. "Maybe the linesman should have seen it but there have been times when we have suffered in this way."
Ranieri also praised the improvement in his midfield after halftime.
"Marchisio and [Marco] Marchionni both had great games," he said. "They always put themselves out for the team.
"In the first half our midfield were overrun and not with the pace of the match, but in the second [Cristiano] Zanetti did a lot of good things."