Milan (AFP) – Argentina forward Paulo Dybala hit a hat-trick as Juventus recovered from two goals down after a dreadful start to win 4-2 at Genoa in Serie A on Saturday.
With confidence still flying high after last season’s shock 3-1 home win over the champions, Genoa looked on their way to causing another upset after breaching Gianluigi Buffon’s goal twice in the opening minutes.
Seconds into the game the Luigi Ferraris stadium erupted when Goran Pandev skipped past Alex Sandro, rolled the ball across the area and saw his effort deflect off Miralem Pjanic’s knee and into the net.
Memories of last season’s reverse must have come flooding back for visiting coach Massimiliano Allegri, especially when the hosts doubled their lead six minutes later.
For the second successive league game, Juve conceded a penalty following a decision by the video assistant referee (VAR) after defender Daniele Rugani kicked the back of Andrej Galabinov’s heel.
Although Galabinov looked slightly offside, officials consulted the VAR technology to award the penalty, which Galabinov got up to convert.
Juve, however, refused to buckle. Pjanic made part amends for his earlier mishap when he pulled back from the byline for Dybala to beat Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin at his near post before the quarter hour.
The goal was enough to instil Juve confidence and Perin was tested by both Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain shortly after, while Galabinov nodded just wide from Darko Lazovic’s cross at the other end.
Perin, making his first home appearance since rupturing his ACL last season, did well to thwart Dybala twice in succession after he latched on to Pjanic’s pass, scrambling to deny Mario Mandzukic on the follow-up, too.
The VAR was used again, this time to Juve’s advantage, when a penalty was awarded for a Lazovic handball from a Cuadrado pass. Dybala stepped up to convert and level four minutes into first-half stoppage time.
Juve completed their comeback just after the hour thanks to a fine piece of skill from Colombian forward Cuadrado, who controlled Mandzukic’s lob before beating Perin with a left-footed curler into the far top corner.
To their credit, Genoa dug deep and Diego Laxalt was unlucky when his strike skimmed the bottom of the far post, Buffon then hurrying to smother Raffaele Palladino’s close-range effort.
But hopes of snatching a share of the points were tempered by a fine third from Dybala, the diminutive number 10 collecting from Higuain before firing a low drive past Perin.
In Saturday’s late game Roma host Inter Milan and former coach Luciano Spalletti at the Stadio Olimpico.