Juventus beat Verona; Inter, Lazio play draw; Roma held
Rome: Argentine forward Paulo Dybala signalled his return to form with a brace as Juventus defeated Hellas Verona 3-1 on a day Inter Milan and Lazio played a goalless draw and Roma were held 1-1 by Sassuolo in the Serie A.
Dybala scored twice in the 72nd and 77th minutes on Saturday night away as he ended the goal drought in the league since the defeat to Sampdoria on November 19.
Juventus got into the lead in the sixth minute through Blaise Matuidi's sixth-minute strike — a tap in at the left post after Gonzalo Higuain's long-range hit rebounded off the right post.
But Juventus saw their former defender Martin Caceres slotting home the equaliser in the 59th minute at the Stadio Bentegodi.
However, Dybala, who scored in the Coppa Italia last week, produced two goals within five minutes to bury the game.
The first one came when Sami Khedira slid a through-ball into Stephan Lichtsteiner with the right back sending a cross into the box. Dybala was there to pounce finishing emphatically with the right foot to restore Juventus' lead.
Five minutes later, the Argentine weaved through the Verona defence to score his second goal of the match and Juventus' third.
The win gave second-placed Juventus three points as they remain a point behind leaders Napoli (48 points), who registered 1-0 away win over Crotone on Friday.
"I'm pleased for Dybala. It's important he scored again and after getting his goal he actually played better — his set pieces improved as well. The mental side is crucial and he's relaxed," Juventus chief coach Massimiliano Allegri told his club's website.
"He has a path to follow and he needs to focus purely on improving day by day. His objective must be to become the best player in the world along with Neymar within the next three years," he added.
Defending champions Juventus pulled away from the chasing pack as third-placed Inter Milan (41 points) and fifth-placed Lazio (37 points) battled to a draw at the San Siro Stadium. Fourth-placed team Roma (39 points) were held to a 1-1 draw by Sassuolo at the Olimpico stadium here.
Lorenzo Pellegrini opened the scoring for Roma 31 minutes into the match.
With 12 minutes to go, Simone Missiroli netted the equaliser to give Sassuolo a 1-1 away draw. Sassuolo are in 14th place with 21 points.
Udinese won 2-1 in an away game over Bologna while Torino gained a single point in the league table after a scoreless draw against Genoa. Udinese occupy the eighth position with 27 points, three points behind sixth-placed Sampdoria, who defeated Spal 2-0.
Also on Saturday, Atalanta suffered a 1-2 home defeat against Cagliari while Benevento beat Chievo Verona 1-0 in the same round.
AC Milan gained a point after a 1-1 away draw against Fiorentina. After a scoreless first half, Giovanni Simeone netted the opening goal in the 71st minute, reports Efe.
Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu slotted in the equaliser just three minutes later to secure the draw.
The draw comes after two consecutive defeats in the league. Before the match, Milan got a 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals Inter in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals.
With this draw, Milan provisionally occupy the ninth position with 25 points, two points behind eighth-placed Fiorentina.