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Serie A: Dybala’s hat trick sends Juve 7 points clear in title race

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ROME (AP) Serie A leader Juventus overcame a series of defensive lapses to beat last-place Benevento 4-2 and move seven points clear on Saturday.

Cheick Diabate scored twice for Benevento before Paulo Dybala converted the second of his two penalties in the 74th minute to finally put Juventus ahead for good and complete a hat trick.

Coming off a debilitating 3-0 loss at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals, and ahead of next week’s second leg, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri rested several regular starters.

The two goals Juventus conceded matched the number the Bianconeri allowed over their previous 17 Serie A games.

“We’ve got to reorganize ourselves and improve, because right now we’re conceding too many shots,” Allegri said. “But moments like these happen over the course of a season, otherwise we would never allow any goals.”

Dybala opened the scoring with a shot from the edge of the area into the far corner midway through the first half.

Diabete, a Mali forward, notched his first from close range after he was left unmarked following a rebound off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who played in place of Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon.

Just before the break, the VAR awarded Juventus a penalty that Dybala converted for contact between Berat Djimsiti and Miralem Pjanic.

Diabate rose above defender Medhi Benatia to head in another equalizer in the 51st for his fifth goal in four matches since arriving on loan from Turkish club Osmanlispor.

Ten minutes after he was sent on, Gonzalo Higuain earned a penalty and Dybala again was perfect from the spot, giving him a personal-best 21 goals in the league.

Douglas Costa, another substitute, sealed the victory with a long-range goal in the 82nd.

“I’m happy for the goals because these haven’t been easy days,” Dybala said. “We won a complicated match and played well.”

Dybala had two penalties saved earlier this season.

“Missing them happens. Goalkeepers train at stopping them,” Dybala said.

Dybala was optimistic for Wednesday’s second leg in Madrid.

“We believe in our Champions League chances. My teammates are men that never give up,” Dybala said. “We’re convinced we can get the result, otherwise we wouldn’t even go.”

Serie A: Napoli drop points again, send Juve top with game in hand

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona win without Messi | Atletico 8 points back ]

Juventus 2-0 Udinese

Paulo Dybala appears destined for the riches of Barcelona, or Manchester City, or perhaps Paris Saint-Germain in the not-so-distant future — maybe even this summer, though someone should probably pull the trigger for $200 million before the World Cup, after which the price will likely inflate to $250 million.

The 24-year-old Argentine superstar has 17 Serie A goals for Juventus this season, including a brace in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Udinese to send the Bianconeri top of the league table, and will probably win the league’s player of the season award going away.

The victory sent Juve, who have a game in hand, one point ahead of Napoli.

Inter Milan 0-0 Napoli

Juve’s rise to the Serie A summit was made possible by yet another slip-up by Napoli, who dropped points for the second straight game, in a scoreless draw with Inter Milan. Having lost to Roma in spectacular fashion last week, Juve already controlled their own destiny when they trailed by just one point with a game in hand.

Sunday’s draw at the San Siro leaves Maurizio Sarri’s side as serious outsiders in their bid to deny Juve a seventh straight Serie A title.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Roma 3-0 Torino (Friday)
Cagliari 2-2 Lazio
Genoa 0-1 AC Milan
Fiorentina 1-0 Benevento — MORE
Crotone 4-1 Sampdoria
Bologna 0-1 Atalanta
Hellas Verona 1-0 Chievo (Saturday)
Sassuolo 1-1 SPAL 2013

Juventus comes back, eliminate Spurs from Champions League

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Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala scored quickfire second half goals to battle back past Spurs 2-1 — 4-3 on aggregate — and send The Old Lady into the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

Heung-Min Son scored the lone Spurs goal to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at Wembley Stadium, but Tottenham failed in its bid to reach a first quarterfinal since 2011.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harry Kane burst inside and past Giorgio Chiellini, then moved by Gianluigi Buffon but couldn’t cut his shot inside the goal post.

Douglas Costa was not given a penalty when Jan Vertonghen clipped his ankle in the box, perhaps because the Brazilian did not go down and instead tried to continue his dribble.

Instant replay is a beaut, but how this wasn’t called a penalty in real time we’ll probably never understand. So many refs!

Vertonghen would pick up a yellow card soon after, and the match devolved for a bit into a series of chippy incidents after (and during) hard tackles. Sandro earned one in the 35th.

Moments after Son dragged a shot wide of goal, the South Korean put Spurs ahead 1-0 and ensured Juventus would need at least two goals to win. Kieran Trippier‘s cross zipped through the 18 and Son got enough of the shot to score.

Miralem Pjanic placed a 41st minute shot wide of the near post within two minutes of the Londoners’ opener.

Chiellini saw yellow for a edgy tackle on Dele Alli two minutes before the hour mark.

Then it all fell apart for Spurs.

Juventus earned new life when Christian Eriksen and Eric Dier were watching Sami Khedira’s header and not Higuain’s move to the back post to push it past Lloris.

Within two minutes, Dybala raced past Ben Davies to catch Higuain’s pass and beat Lloris 1v1. Poor from Spurs, euphoria for The Old Lady.

Spurs pushed hard, but an emotional Juve defended with vigor. Chiellini had a fine intervention to force a corner in the 79th minute.

Any Juve’s aggrieved penalty feelings received some salve when Chiellini’s blocked shot in the 18 rebounded off his arm but went uncalled by the referee.

Then, pure anguish: Kane nodded off the ground and the post and sub Erik Lamela couldn’t get his bearing to redirect the rebound before Andrea Barzagli cleared the ball.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Serie A: Juve now in control after win, Napoli’s loss to Roma

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ROME (AP) — Defending champion Juventus was poised to regain control of the Italian title race, closing the gap on leader Napoli to one point with a game in hand after Paulo Dybala’s superb injury-time winner beat Lazio 1-0 on Saturday.

The script could not have been written any better for Juventus, which is chasing a seventh straight Serie A title and 34th overall. If Dybala’s 93rd-minute winner wasn’t already enough to celebrate, Lazio’s cross-city rival Roma then did Juve a huge favor by winning at Napoli 4-2.

Striker Edin Dzeko netted twice for a rampant Roma which jumped above Lazio and into third place by one point. They are in a fierce fight with Inter Milan — preparing for the Milan derby on Sunday — for a Champions League place next season.


Livewire Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli the perfect start by sweeping in Mario Rui’s cross from the left after six minutes.

But home celebrations ended one minute later when in-form Turkey forward Cengiz Under scored an audacious but slightly deflected lob over Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina from inside the penalty area. He was found by Radja Nainggolan after Napoli lost possession in midfield.

Then, the imposing Dzeko easily rose above Raul Albiol to plant a firm header past Reina from Alessandro Florenzi’s cross. Both players were on Roma’s bench last week in the home loss to AC Milan, but probably won’t be anymore.

Napoli sent on all-time leading club scorer Marek Hamsik midway through the second half to spark its attack, and seconds later Insigne’s quick shot from outside the box curled just wide.

But Dzeko produced a masterful goal in the 73rd. Expertly controlling the ball some 30 meters out, he beat two players before bending the ball out of Reina’s reach and into the bottom left corner from the right edge of the penalty area.

Insigne was Napoli’s main threat and twice had shots saved shortly after Dzeko’s second goal. But Napoli’s awful defending could not go unpunished and Diego Perotti blasted in the fourth after a cross from the left was badly dealt with.

Napoli’s players hardly celebrated when Dries Mertens slotted in an injury-time consolation goal.


Paulo Dybala had done nothing all game for Juventus at Lazio.

That was until the 93rd minute when he brilliantly cut inside Luiz Felipe with a quick flick, showed great upper-body strength to hold off Marco Parolo, and fired into the top right corner while off balance.

The diminutive Argentina forward, who started the move by winning the ball in midfield and spraying it quickly to the right, sprinted jubilantly into the arms of delirious Juve fans behind the goal in the away end. His teammates mobbed him as he celebrated his 15th league goal, making him the team’s top scorer, one ahead of Gonzalo Higuain, who did not play.

Juventus neutralized Lazio striker Ciro Immobile, Serie A’s top scorer with 23, but created little until Dybala’s moment of magic.

Juventus was more concerned on keeping a close eye on Immobile, who scored four times in his last two matches against the Bianconeri.

He was not at his sharpest, yet hardly had any service.

Still, Juve’s defenders were glad to see him go off 10 minutes from time.

Paulo Dybala awaits results on injured hamstring

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Juventus striker Paulo Dybala was reportedly in tears as he trudged off just after halftime of Juventus’s 1-0 win over Cagliari on Saturday in Serie A play. The reason? A hamstring problem.

The 23-year-old Argentinian star came off injured in the 50th minute, replaced by Douglas Costa who assisted the eventual winner 24 minutes later.  “We don’t know how bad it is now, but he will have tests,” manager Massimiliano Allegri said after the match.

In a World Cup year, players are easily spooked by these types of injuries, and no doubt Dybala had some scary thoughts as he came off in pain. However, with Juventus on a two-week break, he will have time to recover without missing too many club matches.

Dybala has scored 14 goals in Serie A play this season in 19 appearances. He had a brace in a 3-1 win over Hellas Verona back on New Year’s Eve. Douglas Costa, meanwhile, could benefit from Dybala’s injury, as the Brazilian has only started eight of his 20 league appearances this season and just twice since the start of December.

Juventus sits just a point back of Napoli in the league table, although the two aren’t scheduled to play again until late April.