Miralem Pjanic boots in winner as Juventus grinds out win against Chievo in Serie A
Miralem Pjanic gets mobbed after scoring in the 75th minute for Juventus. AP

MILAN — Title-winning teams often grind out results despite not playing well — and that is precisely what Juventus is doing.

Chievo Verona had won just one of its last six matches but Juventus struggled to break it down before eventually winning 2-1 on Sunday (Monday, Manila time).

Juventus remained four points clear of second-placed Roma and five above AC Milan.

Miralem Pjanic had struggled to fit in since transferring from Roma in the offseason but he scored what was to prove the winner for Juventus in the 75th minute with a trademark free kick into the top right corner from just outside the area. Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino barely moved.

"I won the free kick and I put it in. I'm happy, but what's important, above all, is the three points," Pjanic said. "I always do my utmost to fit in as best as possible, it's obvious that I want to do more, but it's a new system, it's a different kind of football to where I was before, but I'm adapting.

"I'm not worried, I know that there are always great expectations in a great club, that doesn't worry me, I'm staying calm, I do my work as best as possible. So slowly but surely I'll get there, I'm a new footballer here, but I'm happy to be here."

Mario Mandzukic broke the deadlock in the 53rd, controlling Juan Cuadrado's through ball before driving across into the bottom left corner.

Mandzukic almost scored a stunning goal in the first half, nodding on a long ball and flicking it over Nicolas Spolli before firing over the bar from six yards.

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was making his 600th Serie A appearance, becoming only the fourth player to reach that mark after Paolo Maldini (647), Javier Zanetti (615) — who are both retired — and Roma captain Francesco Totti (607).

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Buffon was decisive in the 64th to deny Lucas Castro from point-blank range, but could do nothing moments later as Sergio Pellissier converted a penalty after being tripped by Stephan Lichtsteiner.

There was more bad news on the injury front for Juventus, which is already without Giorgio Chiellini. Fellow defender Andrea Barzagli was stretchered off in the fifth minute with a dislocated shoulder.

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