Football roundup: Tight atop Serie A as all title chasers win
ROME-- Gonzalo Higuain netted twice as Juventus preserved their seven-point lead in Serie A with a 2-0 victory at Cagliari.
The reigning champions registered a fifth consecutive league win in their quest for a sixth straight Scudetto thanks to goals in each half from their prized striker.
Serie A week 24 kicked off with Napoli beating Genoa 2-0 thanks to goals from Piotr Zielinski and Emanuele Giaccherini. The win against Genoa keeps them in the hunt for the Serie A title as they have 51 points now from 24 matches. That is two less than AS Roma and nine less than leaders Juventus.
Higuain got off the mark with a flick over keeper Rafael in the 37th minute and two minutes after the break he turned Paulo Dybala's assist into the net for his 18th league goal of the season. Cagliari later had Nicolo Barella dismissed for fouling Miralem Pjanic. The final moments of the game saw the Cagliari keeper make one of the saves of the season, denying Paolo Dybala’s as he latched onto the rebound of a shot that came off the bar.
Earlier, Roma made sure to keep the pressure on Juve by beating Crotone 2-0 with goals from Radja Nainggolan and Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian striker could have scored first but missed a 17th-minute penalty, meaning it fell to Nainggolan to give Roma the lead just before half-time. This is the second penalty in five games that Dzeko has missed and it led him to admit that perhaps he should hand over the duties to someone else after the game.
Despite the early disappointment, Dzeko would manage to notch his seventh goal in six games in all competitions for the Giallorossi as he netted from close range on 77 minutes. This now ties him in the race to be crowned capocannonieri or top scorer with Higuain on 18 goals in the season.
Inter Milan and Atalanta are level on points in fourth and fifth after winning against Empoli and Palermo respectively.
Eder and Antonio Candreva scored either side of the break as Inter triumphed 2-0 at San Siro while Atalanta were 3-1 winners in Sicily thanks to goals from Andrea Conti, Alejandro Gomez and Bryan Cristante, with Ivalyo Chochev scoring to make it 2-1 in the 41 minute.
Bottom of the table Pescara threatened an incredible comeback at Torino but Andrea Belotti's brace put the northerners out of sight in a 5-3 home success. Belotti is now on 17 goals for the season and in second place to be top scorer.
Iago Falque got the ball rolling with a second-minute opener at the Stadio Olimpico di Turino and Pescara looked doomed when Arlind Ajeti and Belotti added further goals before 15 minutes were up.
Adem Ljajic extended Il Toro's advantage eight minutes after the break but, after Belotti grabbed his second on the hour. Pescara were finally granted some respite as Ajeti scored an own goal in the 73rd minute making the score 5-1.
Midfielder Ahmad Benali then made the gap three goals before frightening Torino with another goal for Pescara in the 83rd minute. It all proved to be too little too late as Torino ran out 5-3 winners.
Roberto Inglese scored a hat-trick in Chievo's 3-1 win over 10-man Sassuolo. Timo Letschert's third-minute dismissal gave Chievo an opportunity to edge ahead, only for Inglese to miss the resulting penalty.
Alessandro Matri nudged Sassuolo ahead in the 24th minute but Inglese levelled shortly before the interval. When play resumed, the striker scored twice more to register his first top-flight treble, with the three points boosting Chievo into 10th place.
Elsewhere, Sampdoria mounted a comeback to defeat Bologna 3-1 in Genoa. Blerim Dzemaili gave Bologna the lead but Luis Muriel's penalty had Sampdoria on level terms before the break, with substitute Patrik Schick completing the fightback and Ibrahima M'Baye's own goal confirming the outcome in the 88th minute.