Sport  |  Football  

Juventus keep Lazio at bay with Genoa stroll

By AFP |   01 July 2020   |   4:26 am  

Juventus’ Brazilian forward Douglas Costa (C) celebrates with Juventus’ Brazilian defender Danilo (L) and Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Genoa vs Juventus played on June 30, 2020 behind closed doors at the Luigi-Ferraris stadium in Genoa, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Juventus maintained their four-point lead at the top of Serie A on Tuesday after strolling to a 3-1 win at Genoa that keeps chasers Lazio at bay despite their comeback triumph at Torino.

Three stunning individual goals from Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Douglas Costa downed relegation-threatened Genoa and kept Maurizio Sarri on course to deliver Juve’s ninth straight league title in his first season as coach.

Andrea Pinamonti pulled one back with 14 minutes left for the struggling hosts, who stay just one point above the drop zone and third-from-bottom Lecce, who host Genoa’s local rivals Sampdoria on Wednesday.

Pinamonti’s strike was the first goal Juve have conceded since losing at Lyon in late February, but it wasn’t enough to stop the champions from cruising to their sixth straight league win.

“It was a good team effort and we scored three brilliant goals,” said Sarri.

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“The team have recovered well after the disappointment of losing the Italian Cup final, it was only a matter of time.”

The victory at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris showcased the firepower Sarri has at his disposal, with Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin making five saves in the goalless first half as Juve pushed early to win the match.

Dybala put his side in the lead in the 50th minute with a beautiful finish following a snaking dribble, a strike that set the tone for the rest of the match.

Ronaldo, who had looked off the pace following the league’s restart from the coronavirus shutdown, showed that he was back to his best seven minutes later when he charged towards goal before letting off a rocket of a shot that Perin could only grasp at as it fired into the net.

That settled the result, but substitute Costa then made his own case for goal of the match when he collected the ball towards the right side of the area and unleashed a curling, dipping shot that again left Perin bewildered.

“They (Dybala and Ronaldo) have learned to look for each other more often,” Sarri said of a blossoming partnership.

They have realised that by benefitting from each other, both reap the rewards. It’s something I have noticed in training too.”

Immobile launches Lazio comeback
Lazio had done their part earlier on Tuesday when they came from behind again to win 2-1 against struggling Torino.

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Ciro Immobile’s 29th league goal of another remarkable season for the Italy forward and Marco Parolo’s deflected strike in the 73rd minute completed a deserved second-half comeback for Lazio, who had clawed their way to a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in similar fashion just two days earlier.

Andrea Belotti gave the hosts an early lead from the penalty spot after Immobile handled but spent the rest of the match on the back foot and are 14th on 31 points.

Moreno Longo’s side have lost seven of their last nine league matches and although they are six points above the drop zone could find themselves dragged into a dogfight by the end of this round of fixtures.

Lazio meanwhile are still in the hunt for their first league title in 20 years and are also practically guaranteed Champions League football next season for the first time since 2007-08, as they are 20 points ahead of fifth-placed local rivals Roma.

Immobile’s goal, a fine left-footed finish three minutes after the break, was another example of Luis Alberto’s importance to Lazio, as it was a league-leading 13th assist of the season for the former Liverpool man.

His strike also meant the Italy forward equalled his own record for the highest number of goals scored by a Lazio player in a Serie A season.

However Lazio will have to do without the 30-year-old against AC Milan on Saturday, as he will be suspended after being booked for the handball that gave his team another uphill struggle to overcome.

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