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Nedved gives Juventus 1-0 win over Sampdoria

ROME, March 4 (Reuters) - Juventus maintained their 10-point lead in Serie A when Pavel Nedved scored the winner for a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria on Saturday.

The result gave Juventus 73 points from 28 matches. Second-placed AC Milan continued their distant pursuit by beating Empoli 3-0.

Without first-choice strikers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Trezeguet, who were both injured, Juventus coach Fabio Capello fielded an attacking partnership of Marcelo Zalayeta and the in-form Alessandro Del Piero.

The Italian champions lacked their usual cutting edge though in a disjointed first half performance.

Sampdoria went closest to taking an early lead when Sergio Volpi fired a long-range free kick against the woodwork.

Nedved missed a sitter just before the break, skewing Del Piero's lay-off over the bar, but made up for his mistake in the 68th minute when he rose above his marker to head in an Adrian Mutu free kick.

Patrick Vieira could have added to the score shortly afterwards but headed wide from an unmarked position on the edge of the box.

INZAGHI DOUBLE

The key player in AC Milan's win over relegation-threatened Empoli was Filippo Inzaghi, who scored twice to continue his push for a place in Italy's World Cup squad.

The 32-year-old striker, who has hit the target seven times in his last five Serie A appearances, is bidding for his first international call-up since October 2003.

Milan, aiming for a fifth Serie A win in a row, had dropped just two points at the San Siro all season but initially struggled to break down a well-organised defence in an even first half.

Alessandro Costacurta came closest to giving them the lead when he hit the post on the half hour.

At the other end, an Empoli counter-attack finished with Sergio Almiron narrowly failing to make contact with Antonio Busce's low cross to the far post.

Inzaghi finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute, gathering Johann Vogel's pass on the edge of the area, turning his marker and blasting a left-foot shot past Daniele Balli.

Fellow striker Andriy Shevchenko made it 2-0 four minutes later with an easy finish after being put clear on goal by Kaka.

Inzaghi grabbed a lucky second goal in the 86th minute when Shevchenko's free kick deflected off his shins to beat Balli.