30 Dec Juventus see off Verona thanks to late Paulo Dybala double
Juventus closed the gap to Serie A leaders Napoli back down to just one point after a 3-1 win at Verona with a brace from Paulo Dybala.
Blaise Matuidi gave the Bianconeri an early lead on six minutes when he slotted the ball into the bottom corner after Gonzalo Higuain’s angled drive had bounced back off the post.
Higuain then shot straight at the Verona keeper from point-blank range, before, on the hour mark, former Juve man Martin Caceres drilled home an equaliser from 25 yards.
Juventus, though, went back in front on 72 minutes when Dybala swept the ball in after a cutback from Stephan Lichtsteiner, before the Argentina forward swiftly added a third with a fine individual effort.
Earlier, Roma had seen their bid to break into Serie A’s top three at the halfway stage of the season thwarted in part by two video assistant referee decisions as they drew 1-1 with Sassuolo.
Eusebio Di Francesco was leading the Giallorossi against his former employers and it was another man to have switched to the Stadio Olimpico, Lorenzo Pellegrini, who opened the scoring.
After the break Edin Dzeko thought he had notched his ninth goal this term, but VAR decided he had been offside and, minutes later, Simone Missiroli levelled for Sassuolo with a well-placed header.
Alessandro Florenzi found the back of the net with five minutes remaining, only for VAR to intervene once more.
The point kept Roma two behind Inter Milan, who could only labour to a Saturday evening stalemate with Lazio at San Siro.
Lazio’s Ciro Immobile won a penalty in the second half, but VAR overturned the referee’s decision, with Mauro Icardi heading just wide for Inter late on.
Hakan Calhanoglu spared AC Milan from ending the year with a defeat by scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.
Giovanni Simeone’s second-half header set Milan on a course to lose their third straight league match, but Turkey international Calhanoglu acted quickly to salvage an away point.
There was unbridled joy at Benevento’s Stadio Ciro Vigorito as the promoted club finally celebrated a first top-flight victory thanks to Massimo Coda’s first strike of the campaign.
Benevento had just one point on the board after 18 games, but Coda sealed a 1-0 win over Chievo to spark the faintest glimmer of hope they will be able to battle for survival in 2018.
Kevin Lasagna scored his fifth goal in as many matches as Udinese recovered to triumph 2-1 at Bologna.
Danilo’s own goal gave the Rossoblu the upper hand before the half-hour mark, but defender Silvan Widmer levelled with a bullet header.
Following the interval, Lasagna slotted Rodrigo De Paul’s pass home as Udinese climbed to seventh.
Ten-man Cagliari held on to claim a 2-1 success over Atalanta in Bergamo.
Leonardo Pavoletti fired the Sardinians ahead with six minutes gone and Simone Padoin tucked Diego Farias’ cross away to give Cagliari a comfortable lead.
Right at the death, though, Alejandro Gomez slashed the deficit and Senna Miangue’s dismissal for a second bookable offence made for a tense finale.
Sampdoria sustained their push for European football as Fabio Quagliarella scored two last-gasp goals in a 2-0 home win against SPAL.
The veteran striker broke the deadlock from the penalty spot when Emiliano Viviano brought down Gaston Ramirez and Quagliarella doubled up from a Dawid Kownacki assist in the dying seconds.
Elsewhere, Torino and Genoa shared a goalless draw.