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Dec 9, 2012

Antonio Conte celebrates return with win

Defending champion Juventus celebrated coach Antonio Conte's return with a win, beating Palermo 1-0 in Serie A on Sunday.

Stephan Lichtsteiner scored five minutes into the second half for Juventus, which also hit the goal-frame twice through Mirko Vucinic.

Palermo had a first-half strike from Fabrizio Miccoli ruled out for offside and also had Michel Morganella sent off 15 minutes from time after picking up his second yellow card.

It was Conte's first match back on the bench after serving a four-month ban for failing to report match-fixing when he coached Siena two seasons ago.

Juventus is four points ahead of Inter Milan, which beat Napoli 3-1 to move above its opponent into second place in the standings.

"I missed the smell of the grass," Conte said. "These four months have been painful, but it was a formative experience. With my absence it was as if Juve was a car starting the grand prix with deflated tires. But I have special players, a special club ... I am a bit special, too.

"I've learnt a lot in these four months. I had a club which was strongly by my side and the squad did something extraordinary. If this had happened last year, when I started at Juve, my career would have been ruined."

Elsewhere, AC Milan continued its recent resurgence with its third consecutive league victory, winning 4-2 at Torino, but midfielder Nigel De Jong's season is over after he snapped his Achilles tendon in the 21st minute.

"We did well to earn a great victory," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Perhaps in the first half we could've done more in terms of technique and pace, but the lads still created a lot and I am satisfied with their performance.

"We are slowly growing and improving. It's just a terrible shame about De Jong, who will be out for the rest of the season, and of course all the lads dedicate the win to him."

Torino coach Giampiero Ventura was taken ill during the match and assistant Salvatore Sullo gave directions from the touchline in the second half. Ventura was checked by ambulance staff after the final whistle but the club says he is fine.

In Sicily, Miccoli thought he had given Palermo the lead in the 17th minute with a lovely shot from a tight angle on the right side of the area but he was marginally offside.

Juventus should have taken the lead in the 36th when Claudio Marchisio's shot was deflected straight to Vucinic, who side-footed the ball onto the right post from six yards with the goal gaping.

Inter scored with its only two shots of the first half. Fredy Guarin was left completely unmarked to volley in Antonio Cassano's corner in the eighth minute.

Guarin turned provider as Inter doubled its lead six minutes from the interval. He threaded the ball through to Diego Milito, who fended off Alessandro Gamberini and fired into the bottom corner despite goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis getting a hand to the ball.

Napoli pulled one back when Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic made two great saves before Edison Cavani bundled the ball into the net.

Cristiano Bergodi recorded his first win as Pescara coach as it beat fellow strugglers Genoa 2-0 to end a four-game losing streak.

It is Genoa coach Luigi Del Neri's seventh loss in eight games in charge.

Elvis Abbruscato and Ante Vukusic scored in the second half.

Genoa is now second last in the table, a point above Siena, which lost 3-1 at home to Catania.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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