Milan (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain hit a rapid hat-trick and Sami Khedira two in three minutes as champions Juventus piled the pressure on Napoli in the Serie A title chase with a 7-0 win over Sassuolo on Sunday.
Juventus were 4-0 up by half-time after Alex Sandro opened the scoring on nine minutes in Turin with a quick-fire Khedira brace and a Miralem Pjanic goal burying an overwhelmed Sassuolo.
Argentine ace Higuain dominated the second half with a hat-trick in a 20-minute spell to bring his league tally to 13 as Juventus went top of the table two-points ahead of Napoli who play at bottom side Benevento later Sunday.
Sassuolo are rooted in 15th position.
“We cannot afford any slip-ups with Napoli having an extraordinary championship. It was important to win today so we could definitively break away from the chasing pack, who are now 14 points away,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“Many players are beginning to reach their peak.”
Blaise Matuidi went off with a muscular injury and Allegri said he expected the French international would be out of the Champions League clash against Tottenham on February 13.
“Blaise Matuidi seems to have a muscular issue, but we have players like Claudio Marchisio and Paulo Dybala who are getting closer to fitness,” added the Juventus coach.
Earlier Roma got back to winning ways to move closer to the Champions League places with Turkish winger Cengiz Under scoring the only goal within the first minute in Verona.
Roma had not won since December 16 but 20-year-old Under got them off the mark early on taking the hosts by surprise to slot in his first Serie A goal.
The visitors held on despite Lorenzo Pellegrini being sent off after 51 minutes for tackling Ryder Matos from behind.
Roma stay fifth but move to within a point of Inter Milan who occupy the final Champions League spot after being held 1-1 by Crotone on Saturday.
“We deservedly won. We went down to 10 men and still didn’t allow a shot on goal,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
Verona’s Brazilian goalkeeper Nicolas did well to twice block Edin Dzeko during a first half dominated by Roma.
Dzeko, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman had further chances as Roma held on for three points to move to within a point of Inter in fourth.
– Suso stunner –
AC Milan missed the chance to move into the Europa League places being held 1-1 at Udinese with Davide Calabria sent off on 68 minutes.
Suso opened with a stunning shot from a distance within the first minute. But Milan’s Calabria was sent off for a second yellow card and Udinese drew level eight minutes later when goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma deflected into his own net.
Atalanta beat Chievo 1-0 with Gianluca Mancini’s winner on 72 minutes at first disallowed, then given after viewing the video assistant referee (VAR).
On Saturday, Inter Milan were jeered off the pitch at the San Siro after extending their winless run to eight games in Serie A with a 1-1 draw against minnows Crotone.
Brazilian Eder headed in for the hosts after 23 minutes only for Andrea Barberis to level 15 minutes into the second half to leave Inter without a win in two months. Verona stay second from bottom with just 16 points from 23 games.
Midtable Fiorentina won 2-1 at Bologna with Federico Chiesa getting the winner after 71 minutes with Jordan Veretout’s opener cancelled out by Erick Pulgar.
Cagliari earned a 2-0 win over relegation rivals SPAL in Sardinia, with goals from Luca Cigarini and substitute Marco Sau.