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Brazilian star Maicon inspired Roma’s 3-1 win over Udinese on Wednesday which moved them back to the top of Serie A while defending champions Juventus slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Sassuolo.

Hot on the heels of Roma are Napoli, Fiorentina, and Inter Milan, who beat Bologna 1-0 on Tuesday, with all three clubs just two points behind in the standings.

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli overcame Palermo 2-0 and La Viola were victorious at Verona by the same scoreline.

At the Stadio Olimpico, Roma were two goals up inside 10 minutes, first Miralem Pjanic bagged his fifth goal of the season, tapping in a Maicon cross from close range.

Then the Brazilian full-back doubled the lead after a surging run down the right and toe poke past Orestis Karnezis.

Captain on the night Alessandro Florenzi could, and should, have put himself on the scoresheet as Maicon slipped him through on goal, but the 24-year-old smashed the ball high into the stands.

“I’m just trying to do my job,” Maicon told Sky Sport Italia.

“And if we all do that well then the fans are happy. We are clearly in good form at the moment. The result was proof the team is alive and well after three difficult matches.”

Rudi Garcia’s men comfortably controlled the game and Gervinho guaranteed the three points midway through the second half, though Cyril Thereau pulled one back for the visitors with 13 minutes left.

That meant Roma have kept just one clean sheet in Serie A so far this season.

Napoli extended their winning streak to seven matches in all competitions, and have now gone 12 games without defeat.

Gonzalo Higuain got the opener just before half-time, then Dries Mertens sealed the win 10 minutes from the end.

“We (Napoli) must continue at this pace,” said Higuain.

“Everyone is happy and working well. We have seen that if we have the desire to go far, we can do just that and fight for the top places in Serie A.

“There is still room for us to improve, and after having a match just three days ago, we are still playing good football.”

Fiorentina had Nikola Kalinic to thank against Verona.

The 27-year-old Croatian caused Rafael Marquez to put the ball into his own net, before he grabbed his sixth of the season after 57 minutes.

Sassuolo heaped more misery on Juventus as they took all three points at the Mapei Stadium thanks to a magnificent freekick by Nicola Sansone.

Giorgio Chiellini was also sent off for Juve. Level on 18 points with Sassuolo are Lazio after they lost 2-1 in Bergamo to Atalanta.

Lucas Bigliaa s freekick gave Stefano Piolia s side the lead, but a Dusan Basta own goal and Alejandro Gomez strike, four minutes from time, brought Atalanta within one point of their opponents.

At the San Siro, AC Milana s underwhelming season continued as they could only manage a 1-0 win over Chievo.

Luca Antonelli grabbing what turned out to be the winner, though pressure on coach Sinisa Mihajlovic will unlikely have eased following yet another lacklustre performance.

Elsewhere, Torino and Genoa drew 3-3 in Turin, and in the battle of the two promoted sides Frosinone emerged 2-1 winners against Carpi at the Stadio Matusa, as both teams ending the game with 10 men.

By AFP