Football: Juve cry foul over rivals' accusations

Juventus defender Martin Caceres of Uruguay scores to give his club a 2-1 goal lead against Napoli during the Italian Serie A match at San Paolo Stadium in Naples, Italy, on Jan 11, 2015. Juventus have hit out at the Serie A rivals who believe t
Juventus defender Martin Caceres of Uruguay scores to give his club a 2-1 goal lead against Napoli during the Italian Serie A match at San Paolo Stadium in Naples, Italy, on Jan 11, 2015. Juventus have hit out at the Serie A rivals who believe they earn favourable decisions from referees. -- PHOTO: EPA

MILAN (AFP) - Juventus have hit out at the Serie A rivals who believe they earn favourable decisions from referees.

The Turin giants beat Napoli 3-1 at the San Paolo stadium on Sunday to pull three points clear of title challengers Roma at the top of Italy's top flight.

However, the defending champions had to hit back after complaints from Napoli that the match referee validated a 69th-minute goal by Martin Caceres despite two Juventus players being offside.

Juventus hit back at similar claims at the start of the season following a bad-tempered 3-2 win over Roma.

Club CEO Beppe Marotta said the scrutiny on Juventus was "unacceptable".

"Every time we beat a big team we're accused of stealing and it's unacceptable," he said.

After the match, Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis hit out on Twitter: "We're tired of this! Juve are a strong side... but if they are helped by the referees they become unbeatable.

"It is inadmissable that with six officials, none of them notice players being offside. Either they do it in bad faith or they are incompetent. These six officials should be sidelined for a long time."

Marotta, however, said the outburst was unfair. "It's a pity that an educated and level-headed person like de Laurentiis has expressed such feelings about us without acknowledging our qualities," he added.

"We came here to win and the team produced a positive result. It's easy to neglect the opposition's merits and attack refereeing decisions."

Juve's 13th win of the season left Massimiliano Allegri's men three points clear of Roma, who had to rely on a Francesco Totti brace to claim a share of the spoils in a 2-2 derby draw with Lazio on Sunday.

But after what he described as a "difficult" game, Allegri admitted: "The fact that Juve have won the last three Scudetto titles does not mean that this year will be straightforward and we must improve.

"We're often good at getting plenty of bodies into the opposition half and winning the ball back quickly, but we need to work more on our distribution of the ball, balance and preventing shots coming in on our goal."

Asked about Napoli's accusations, Allegri added: "Mistakes happen... coaches, players and presidents make them so why shouldn't referees?

"It's disappointing to see someone trying to stir up trouble after such a great match. But this is Italy, and nobody accepts defeat or decisions."