Paulo Dybala hit a brace and Alex Sandro struck his maiden Juventus goal in a 4-0 rout away to Udinese that closed the gap on Serie A leaders Napoli to two points on Sunday.

Napoli, who are gunning for a first title in 26 years, went top of the pile on Saturday thanks to a 3-1 win over Sassuolo when striker Gonzalo Higuain took his tally to 20 goals in 20 games.

But Juve stayed well in the hunt with a comprehensive win at the Friuli Stadium that gave Massimiliano Allegri’s defending champions their 10th consecutive league win.

Argentina international Dybala broke the deadlock on the quarter hour with a superb free kick that sailed over the defensive wall and left Orestis Karnezis rooted to the spot.

Udinese have been celebrating the opening of their stadium after recent refurbishment, but it was to get worse for Stefano Colantuono’s hosts.

Sami Khedira pounced on some calamitous defending to nod a loose ball into the net at the far post just three minutes later.

And Juventus were 3-0 up inside 26 minutes when Dybala beat Karnezis from the spot after Larangeira Danilo was shown a straight red for hauling Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic down from behind.

It was the Argentinian’s ninth goal of the season but sixth in his past 10 games.

Sandro added a fourth three minutes before the interval, the Brazilian defender given the time to curl his effort inside Karnezis’s far post from just inside the area to wrap up the win for the four-time consecutive champions.

Juventus took full advantage of Inter Milan’s 1-1 draw away to Atalanta on Saturday to move up to second, two points clear of Roberto Mancini’s men, who could drop to fourth later on Sunday if Fiorentina, at two points behind, account for AC Milan at the San Siro.

Elsewhere, Luciano Spalletti’s second spell in charge of Roma began in dubious fashion with a 1-1 draw at home to winless Verona.

Spalletti took over from sacked Rudi Garcia in midweek promising to “push the right buttons” in a bid to get the misfiring Giallorossi back into title contention.

But the former Zenit St. Petersburg handler saw the hosts give up a 1-0 lead from Radja Nainggolan’s strike four minutes before the interval when Giampaolo Pazzini levelled from the spot on the hour.

Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko spurned a chance to snatch the win at the death when he headed over from Alessandro Florenzi’s corner, leaving Roma in fifth place and now nine points behind Napoli.

Bologna raced to a 2-0 lead at home to Lazio thanks to a superb free kick from Emanuele Giaccherini on two minutes and Mattia Destro’s opportunistic strike.

But Lazio were handed a lifeline when Adam Masina was shown a straight red for tackling Miroslav Klose from behind in the penalty area.

Antonio Candreva stepped up to beat Antonio Mirante with a cheeky ‘Panenka’ to reduce arrears on 71 minutes and Senad Lulic levelled six minutes later with a superb half-volley from Klose’s delivery on the right flank.

Relegation candidates Carpi gave their survival bid a boost with a 2-1 home win over Sampdoria, Lorenzo Lollo and Jerry Mbakogu, from the spot, scoring either side of Joaquin Correa’s 33rd minute goal for the visitors.

Carpi’s fourth win of the campaign moved them to third from bottom, four points behind Palermo after their 4-0 mauling earlier Sunday at Genoa.

By AFP

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