Dybala Hat-Trick Stretches Juventus’ Lead In Serie A
Paulo Dybala scored a hat-trick, including two from the penalty spot, to extend Juventus’s lead at the top of Serie A with a 4-2 win at battling bottom club Benevento on Saturday.
The Turin giants moved a step closer to a seventh straight Italian title, four days before they travel to Real Madrid needing to overturn a 3-0 deficit to reach the Champions League semi-finals.
Juventus now lead second-placed Napoli, who travel to Chievo on Sunday, by seven points, as Roma’s 2-0 defeat at home to Fiorentina put their third place under threat from Inter Milan and Lazio, who play on Sunday.
Malian forward Cheick Diabate scored a brace to twice drag Benevento back into the game but the rock-bottom side fell to their 26th defeat in 31 games.
“Congratulations to the lads because today was important to win after the defeat against Real Madrid,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“There are seven games left and today it was too important.
“The feeling was that we were at risk, the same feeling I had against AC Milan (last week) when we conceded many shots for the first time in months.
“We’ve got to take every last drop of energy we’ve got left to go for the Scudetto, Italian Cup and of course the second leg in Madrid.”
Dybala — who will miss the trip to Madrid after being red-carded in the first leg — opened the scoring after quarter of an hour and got the second just before the break when he slotted in a penalty awarded after consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR).
The 24-year-old completed his treble with a penalty after 74 minutes when Gonzalo Higuain was brought down in the box, before Douglas Costa added the fourth eight minutes from time with a magnificent curling effort.
‘Nothing to lose’
“It’s difficult against these sides who have nothing to lose,” said Dybala as Juventus allowed their rivals, who were 65 points below them before kick-off, back into the game.
Dybala broke through on 16 minutes when Juan Cuadrado knocked down the ball for the Argentine international to finish with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.
But six minutes later Benevento were level after Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved a Filip Djuricic effort only for Diabate to tap in the rebound.
Mario Mandzukic put the ball in the back of the Benevento net again after 36 minutes, finishing off a Cuadrado cross, but the goal was disallowed for handball.
The champions went into half-time ahead through Dybala’s first penalty after Berat Djimsiti’s foul on Miralem Pjanic.
Benevento were back level five minutes into the second half when Diabate rose higher than defender Medhi Benatia to head home a corner.
It was the 29-year-old’s fifth goal in five games for the club since joining the club in February.
But Dybala, who now has 25 goals in all competitions this season, put Juventus back in front again, before Costa sealed the three points.
Fiorentina shock Roma
Already reeling from their 4-1 Champions League defeat to Barcelona in midweek, Roma’s spot in next year’s elite European competition is now under threat.
First-half goals from Marco Benassi and Giovanni Simeone stretched Fiorentina’s winning run to six games.
Tributes were paid before the game to Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who died last month at the age of 31, and played for Roma in 2014-15.
Benassi gave the visitors the lead after seven minutes at the Stadio Olympico after a pinpoint Riccardo Saponara cross, with Simeone doubling their advantage five minutes before the break.
Edin Dzeko missed numerous chances to for Roma and Inter Milan can pass them when they visit Torino on Sunday.
Lazio can also move level with their Roman rivals when they travel to Udinese.