Conte thrilled with 'good step forward'

Juventus coach Antonio Conte hailed a "good step forward" in the race for the Serie A title after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Bologna.

Juve were frustrated by their struggling visitors for the first hour of Saturday's contest, before Paul Pogba struck from 25 yards to break Bologna's resistance. 

The victory means Juve can wrap up a third straight Scudetto with wins over Sassuolo and Atalanta in their next two games regardless of second-placed Roma's results, although they could be crowned champions sooner should Rudi Garcia's side slip up.

Conte was thrilled to come through Saturday's match encounter, and was particularly happy with the "mature" attitude of his players in being patient against a resilient Bologna outfit. 

When asked if Juve were now almost champions, Conte told Sky Sport Italia: "We made a good step forward.

"We only look to our own results and not what Roma do, even if they are doing extraordinary things. We're not at the finish line yet.

"The only thing that counts is to win and that wasn't simple today.

"All teams come to the Juventus Stadium in order to defend and create a packed midfield. It's down to us to score early and break that deadlock. We were too slow in the first half, then raised the tempo.

"It's tough against these sides who defend with 10 men. We did well not to lose our heads and prevented counter-attacks. Gigi (Gianluigi) Buffon was never called into action.

"This side is mature, has grown a great deal and I am happy. All of this explains the extraordinary campaign we're having."

Juve's next task is a UEFA Europa League semi-final first-leg encounter at Benfica, and Conte is keen for the team to concentrate ahead of the trip to Lisbon.

He added: "Now we have to focus on Benfica and the Europa League semi-final.

"We will prepare for that game studying their defects and trying to get the best out of our own characteristics.

"It won't be easy, as it's a fiery atmosphere, but we want to honour the Europa League."


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