Juventus go four-point clear at top over Napoli in Serie A

Milan, Oct 2 (IANS) Juventus scored three goals in the space of five second-half minutes to down Empoli 3-0 away as the Serie A defending champions took a four-point lead at the top over second-placed Napoli, who lost 0-1 against Atalanta on Sunday.

Paulo Dybala broke the deadlock in the 65th minute at Empoli’s Stadio Carlo Castellani before his Argentine striking partner Gonzalo Higuain fired a brace within the next five minutes to give Juventus a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Meanwhile at Atalanta, Andrea Petagna’s first-half strike shocked Napoli, who failed to find the equaliser.

After the defeat — Napoli’s first of the season, left Juventus at 18 points from seven matches.

In other matches, Cagliari beat Crotone 2-1, while Bologna lost to Genoa 0-1. Sampdoria held Palermo 1-1.

But none could match the quality of performance shown by Juventus, who registered third consecutive victory.

They began with intent and could and perhaps should have taken the lead much earlier than they eventually did inside 10 minutes — Sami Khedira volleying Miralem Pjanic’s superb lofted through pass onto the crossbar with the Empoli defence looking eagerly for an offside flag.

For all of the away side’s dominance however, other clear-cut scoring opportunities remained at a premium until ten minutes before half-time.

Pjanic, impressive throughout the first period, split the home ranks in two again to release Juan Cuadrado down the right who could only shoot at Lukasz Skorupski with the goal gaping.

With the interval beckoning, Cuadrado went close once more lashing a volley over the crossbar from the corner of the six-yard box after Higuain’s delicate chip had been headed off the line.

The second half began much in the same vein with Massimiliano Allegri’s men continuing to control proceedings and exert greater pressure on the Azzurri backline.

This time however, Juventus made their dominance count, Dybala firing past Skorupski on 65 minutes, moments after the Pole had excellently denied Higuain from point-blank range, to hand his side a deserved lead.

Dybala’s compatriot and strike partner was on the scoresheet himself two minutes later, powering into the bottom corner with his left foot when left unchallenged 20 yards from goal for his sixth goal of the campaign.

In the blink of an eye the contest was then closed down for good, Higuain capitalising on a defensive error to dance around Skorupski and poke into an empty net, rounding off a thrilling five-minute, three-goal spell for the Bianconeri.

Allegri’s charges might have even added a fourth late on were it not for the last of a string of fine stops from the home goalkeeper, whose flying save denied Marko Pjaca a first Juventus goal.



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