Juventus beats Palermo 2-0 to extend Serie A lead
Juventus beat Palermo 2-0 Sunday to move three points clear at the top of Serie A and bring a disappointing week to a close.
Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat trick as Napoli came from behind to defeat Hellas Verona 6-2, while Inter Milan won 1-0 at 10-man Cesena to alleviate some of the pressure on their respective managers.
AC Milan drew 1-1 at home to Fiorentina in the evening match.
Fernando Llorente scored his first goal of the season after Arturo Vidal had given Juventus the lead.
“It’s a special day for me because it’s my first goal of the season and I couldn’t wait to get it,” Llorente said. “It’ll definitely help me a lot from now on to keep helping the team.
“It’s not easy scoring from corners because the defenders are jostling you. I couldn’t wait for a delivery like that to come my way to score and get off the mark.”
Juventus moved three points clear of Roma, which drew at Sampdoria on Saturday. Defending champion Juventus had seen its advantage cut after dropping its first points of the season against Sassuolo.
Massimiliano Allegri’s team endured further disappointment when it fell to a second successive Champions League defeat at Olympiakos.
Elsewhere, Genoa came back against 10-man Chievo Verona to ruin coach Rolando Maran’s debut, Udinese beat Atalanta 2-0, and Lazio deafeated Torino 2-1.
Juventus dominated but failed to create any real opportunities until shortly after the half hour when Carlos Tevez surged forward on the counter to set up Vidal for an angled drive into the bottom corner.
Llorente headed in Andrea Pirlo’s corner in the 64th minute to all but seal the match.
Substitute Sebastian Giovinco saw a strike from outside the area crash off the post in the final minute.
Napoli coach Rafa Benitez was feeling the pressure, and days earlier the team bus had been attacked by disgruntled fans following a 2-0 defeat to Young Boys in the Europa League.
Matters went from bad to worse when Emil Hallfredsson gave Verona the lead after just 26 seconds, dedicating the goal to his father who died earlier this month.
However, Marek Hamsik scored his first league goals of the season either side of halftime to put Napoli in front. Nico Lopez leveled for Verona but Higuain also got off the mark to restore the home side’s advantage and completed his hat trick with a stoppage-time penalty after Hallfredsson fouled Dries Mertens.
The Argentine thought he had completed his treble earlier on but had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside.
Jose Callejon, who also hit the post late on, netted Napoli’s fourth goal.
“This victory has given an important sign,” Napoli coach Rafa Benitez said. “I liked almost everything tonight, I say almost because we can and will improve more.
″(Hamsik and Higuain) are two champions. Marek has shown that he can score and play well in any role. Gonzalo could have even scored four goals tonight. I have always had confidence in these guys and in this group. We can achieve important results this year too.”
In Cesena, Mauro Icardi’s penalty was enough to hand Inter a narrow victory — its second in seven matches in all competition.
Cesena goalkeeper Nicola Leali was sent off on the half hour mark after giving away the spot kick by bringing down Rodrigo Palacio.
Nigel de Jong headed Milan in front in the 26th minute but substitute Josip Ilicic leveled shortly after the hour mark, going on a mazy run before drilling into the bottom left corner from just outside the area.
Chievo replaced Eugenio Corini with former club captain Maran on Sunday but was unable to avoid a sixth loss in eight matches.
Ervan Zukanovic volleyed in Valter Birsa’s free kick to give Chievo a deserved lead nine minutes from halftime but Alessandro Matri nodded in the equalizer from close range in the 72nd minute.
Moments later Ivan Radovanovic was sent off for a poor tackle on Andrea Bertolacci but Mauricio Pinilla saw his penalty saved by Francesco Bardi.
Pinilla atoned for his error by heading in the winner six minutes from time.
Udinese moved level with Sampdoria in third place after a magnificent curler from Antonio Di Natale early on and a Cyril Thereau strike.
World Cup winner Miroslav Klose also scored his first league goal since March to secure Lazio’s fourth successive victory.