Alessandro Del Piero scored a stunning free-kick to hand Juventus a 1-0 home win over Siena at Turin's Olympic stadium on Sunday and close the gap at the top behind leaders Inter Milan to four points. Inter left the door open with a surprise 1-1 home draw against Cagliari on Saturday night and Del Piero's sixth goal of the season direct from a free-kick allowed the Old Lady of Turin to take full advantage.
Despite his advancing years, the 34-year-old Del Piero seems to be getting better and better. This was his seventh league goal of the season and 12th in all competitions, but most remarkable has been his free-kick record.
Previous successful dead-ball strikes helped Juve beat Real Madrid home and away in the Champions League while another downed Zenit St Petersburg 1-0 in Turin. And in the league he has been equally deadly, previously hitting the back of the net against Palermo and Chievo.
His 33rd minute strike was the only noteworthy moment in the first half, though, after fellow veteran Pavel Nedved was brought down by his Czech countryman Lukas Jarolim. After the restart Brazilian forward Amauri should have doubled the lead from Zdenek Grygera's cross but he mistimed his header from eight yards and sent it well off target.
Sweden defender Olof Mellberg then had to make a desperate late challenge to deny substitute Mario Frick on the hour as Siena threated. With 17 minutes left Del Piero could have settled Juve nerves but he shot into the side-netting after good work from Amauri.
Siena were intermittently dangerous, though, and Frenchman Abdelkader Gezzal was twice denied in quick succession eight minutes from time, first by former Siena goalkeeper Alex Manninger and then by a flailing defender's body. In other games 10-men Fiorentina fell 2-1 at home to lowly Lecce, who climbed out of the relegation zone, and missed the chance to move third.
It was Fiorentina's woeful offside trap that cost them the three points as Guillermo Giacomazzi ran clear on four minutes before cleverly chipping French goalkeeper Sebastien Frey. Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo equalised with a header but La Viola's defence went missing again and Jose Ignacio Castillo rounded Frey to clinch the victory.
Lazio stayed in Champions League contention as Macedonia forward Goran Pandev scored a hat-trick -- his first league goals since October -- in a thrilling 3-2 win at Reggina. Napoli moved level on points with third-placed AC Milan -- who travel to AS Roma in Sunday's late match -- with a 1-0 home win over Catania courtesy of Cristian Maggio's goal 10 minutes from time.
Meanwhile, Australian midfielder Mark Bresciano scored as Palermo beat Atalanta 3-2 to move eighth and keep alive their UEFA Cup qualification hopes.