Juventus, Napoli maintain perfect Serie A records

Juventus and Napoli bounced back from European disappointment to keep their Serie A perfect records and join Inter Milan at the top of the table on Sunday.

Juventus’ Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala (C) vies for the ball with Sassuolo’s Italian midfielder Stefano Sensi (L) and Sassuolo’s Italian midfielder Francesco Magnanelli during the Italian Serie A football match Sassuolo versus Juventus on September 17, 2017 at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia. / AFP PHOTO

A Paulo Dybala hat-trick lifted Juventus to a 3-1 victory at Sassuolo making it four wins out of four for the champions, as Dries Mertens also scored three goals as Napoli demolished Benevento 6-0 to remain unblemished.

Inter Milan beat Crotone 2-0 on Saturday for a maximum 12 points in the campaign.

Benevento were no match for Napoli, looking for a strong response after their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.

“We were unlucky in Ukraine,” said Belgian forward Mertens.

“Against Shakhtar we made mistakes and didn’t play our game, but today we showed we can do damage.”

Brazilian Allan opened the scoring on a rebound after three minutes and Lorenzo Insigne added a second after quarter of an hour in Naples.

Mertens kicked off his hat-trick with a 27th-minute volley, and then converted two penalties, with Jose Callejon also getting on the scoreboard in the first half.

Napoli are the new leaders with the best goal difference, but Mertens played down title talk.

“It’s still a long journey, Inter and Juve are doing well but we’ll see game after the game,” he added.

Napoli’s Belgian striker Dries Mertens (C) celebrates with Napoli’s Italian striker Lorenzo Insigne (R) and Napoli’s Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik (L), after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A football match Napoli vs Benevento on September 17, 2017 at San Paolo stadium in Naples. / AFP PHOTO

– Dybala masterclass –
Dybala’s heroics helped Juve bounce back after their 3-0 Champions League flop in Barcelona.

The Argentina forward left the pitch ten minutes from the end to a standing ovation from the crowd at the Mapei Stadium following a masterclass performance by the 23-year-old, who has now scored eight goals in four league games this season.

His first was a left-footed volley from the edge of the box to beat Andrea Consigli on 16 minutes, the second a close-range effort again surprising the Sassuolo goalkeeper just after the break and the third a sublime free-kick on 63 minutes.

Sassuolo managed to get a consolation through Matteo Politano after a Stephan Lichtsteiner error on 51 minutes.

“I wanted to score one and three came along,” said Dybala after his second hat-trick of the season and his 52nd goal in his 100th match for Juventus.

“The team gives me confidence and I also compliment the coach who gives me the freedom to play where I want.”

But despite Dybala’s heroics, Massimiliano Allegri said improvement was needed after Juve allowed Sassuolo to get back into the game.

“Even when we were 2-0 up today, we lost a little concentration,” he said. “We shouldn’t have conceded.”

And Allegri believes that Dybala has not yet reached his full potential.

“He is improving in all aspects of the game. He is very young and has much room for improvement. When he plays like that he is unstoppable.”

Behind the leaders, AC Milan recovered from their 4-1 defeat by Lazio last week with a 2-1 win over Udinese thanks to a Nikola Kalinic double on his first Serie A start for the club.

Kalinic and Udinese’s Kevin Lasagna both saw goals disallowed for offside using video technology, before Lasagna did get one back for the visitors.

“Overall, it was a step forward in various different ways, including the attitude,” said Milan coach Vincenzo Montella.

“We could’ve finished it off earlier and must always remain concentrated.”

Cagliari won 2-0 at promoted SPAL and Torino were held 2-2 at home by Sampdoria.

Lazio and Torino can move into the upper reaches of the early table if they beat Genoa and Sampdoria respectively later Sunday.

Roma eased past Verona 3-0 on Saturday.

AFP

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