reclaimed top spot in Serie A on Sunday with a 2-0 win over 10-man Brescia but
Lazio moved just a point behind into second after beating Inter Milan 2-1 in a
clash between the title rivals in Rome.
Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado scored in either half as
champions Juventus rediscovered their winning form at home.
Inter Milan drop from top spot to third, three points behind
the champions, after falling to just their second defeat of the season.
Sparks flew at the Stadio Olimpico with Romelu Lukaku
threating Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Straskosha early with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic
rattling the bar.
But it was defender Ashley Young who broke through just
before the break with his first Serie A goal for Inter Milan after his move
from Manchester United.
The 34-year-old got his foot to tap-in off a rebound after
Straskosha had cleared from former Lazio player Antonio Candreva.
A Stefan de Vrij foul on Ciro Immobile allowed the Serie A
top scorer to slot in his 26th goal in 24 games this season, five minutes after
Milinkovic-Savic snatched the winner after 69 minutes amid
confusion in front of goal.
Inter’s Lautaro Martinez had a goal ruled offside after 78
minutes as the northerners suffered their second defeat after losing to
Juventus in October.
Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio extended their unbeaten run to 19
games as they target their first Scudetto since 2000.
In Turin, Argentine forward Dybala curled in a perfect free
kick six minutes before the break, shortly after Brescia’s Florian Aye was sent
off for two yellow cards in quick succession.
Colombian Cuadrado tapped in the second from close range
after a Blaise Matuidi cross with 15 minutes to go, as the champions bounced
back from last weekend’s shock defeat at Hellas Verona.
“We did what we had to do,” said Juve coach
Maurizio Sarri, whose side had lost two of their previous three games.
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for Sunday’s game in Turin, but
veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini returned after a long injury layoff.
“Cristiano had to rest, he cannot play 75 games a year
between the national team and club, we decided to let him recuperate,”
Sarri said 35-year-old skipper Chiellini had been desperate
to get onto the pitch, after nearly six months off with a cruciate knee injury.
“Chiellini put himself on the pitch by himself,”
“He said it yesterday, he has made six months of
sacrifices and wanted to play the last quarter of an hour, and I found myself
next to him when he had already taken off his tracksuit.”
The champions did not have it all their own way against
lowly Brescia, who stay second-from-bottom, seven points from safety after
extending their winless run to nine games.
Enrico Alfonso went off after just 10 minutes following a
knock to the head, with substitute Brescia keeper Lorenzo Andrenacci pulling
off some fine saves.
In Sardinia, Napoli got back to winning ways with a Dries
Mertens’ 65th-minute goal sealing a 1-0 success over Cagliari.
The Belgian completed a give-and-go with Elseid Hysaj with
the ball curling in with a deflection off the post.
It was the 32-year-old’s 120th goal for Napoli, one short of
Marek Hamsik’s all-time record, and five ahead of club legend Diego Maradona.
“Dries is a phenomenon, a champion who makes difficult
things seem simple,” said coach Gennaro Gattuso.
Gattuso’s side overtake Calgiari, moving up to eighth, two
points off the Europa League berths, as Cagliari drop to 11th place.
Hellas Verona missed the chance to close in on fifth-placed
Roma, who fell 2-1 at Atalanta on Saturday, with a goalless draw at Udinese.
Verona, in sixth, occupy the final Europa League spot ahead
of Parma on goal difference, but stay four points behind Roma.
Parma moved level on 35 points after winning at Sassuolo
1-0, with Ivorian Gervinho scoring the only goal after 25 minutes.
Fiorentina, in 13th, crushed struggling Sampdoria 5-1, with
both teams playing the second half with ten men.