MILAN: Paulo Dybala is Juve’s little gem, Roma still believe in the ‘scudetto’, and Andrea Belotti emulated Andriy Shevchenko when he beat England ‘keeper Joe Hart at the weekend.
A North Korean also made league history, while Crotone’s coach missed his side’s goals because of a sore throat.
Here are five things we learned from Serie A:
Dybala the jewel in Juve’s crown
Gonzalo Higuain hit his second brace in as many outings on Saturday when Juventus came through a complicated 2-0 home win over Chievo, but it was fellow Argentinian Paulo Dybala who earned the plaudits for a 25th league win that maintained their six-point lead over Roma at the top of Serie A. For sure, Dybala is certain to meet stiffer resistance when Juve face Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday, but the diminutive playmaker lived up to his ‘La Joya’ (The Jewel) nickname with another gem of a performance. Some fancy footwork, followed by a smart cutback, picked out Higuain to sweep home Juve’s first on 23 minutes. Dybala was crucial again, six minutes from time, with some great work down the right that allowed Stephan Lichtsteiner to cross for Higuain for his second. The Argentine also hit two in a midweek 3-2 Cup loss to Napoli that saw Juve go through 5-4 on aggregate.
Roma still believe in elusive scudetto
A comprehensive 3-0 win at Bologna means Roma are still six points behind Juventus, with seven games remaining in a championship race the Turin giants are looking to win for a record sixth year in succession. And although Massimiliano Allegri’s men have the odds firmly in their favour, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti won’t give up the fight. “We believe,” he said when asked about Roma’s scudetto chances. “It’s still mathematically possible so all we can do is keep on working hard to try and reduce the gap.” But Spalletti will now be quietly hoping treble-chasing Juventus slip up on the way. Roma haven’t won the title since 2001, and come second no less than eight times since.
Belotti emulates Shevchenko
In just his second full season in Serie A, Torino striker Andrea Belotti is battling Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko for the coveted ‘Capocannoniere’ (top scorer) award. But with seven games remaining, the fledgling Italy striker can already boast of another impressive feat. Belotti was on the mark again in a 3-2 win away at Cagliari on Sunday, when he became the first player since AC Milan great Andriy Shevchenko, in the 1999-2000 season, to hit 24 goals before his 24th birthday. Belotti, 23, and Roma striker Dzeko, who hit one goal in a 3-0 win at Bologna, are both tied at the top on 24 goals with Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, who hit a record 36 for Napoli last season, third on 21.
North Korean makes Serie A history
AC Milan and Inter Milan may hog the headlines when it comes to Asian-linked themes in Serie A, but on Sunday Kwang-Song Han made history by becoming the first North Korean to score a goal in Italy’s top flight. Torino looked to be heading to a comfortable win at Cagliari after Adem Ljajic, Andrea Belotti and Afriyie Acquah gave the visitors a 3-1 lead by the 53rd minute. But Han had other ideas. Having made his Serie A debut in a 3-1 win at Palermo last week, he replaced Marco Sau in the 81st minute and added to Marco Borriello’s 19th minute penalty for the hosts when he beat England ‘keeper Joe Hart in the fifth minute of added-on time. Inter Milan are owned by the Chinese Suning group while a Chinese consortium is in the final stages of taking over seven-time European champions AC Milan.
Throat sweets eclipse goals for Crotone coach
Relegation-haunted Crotone had two-goal hero Diego Falcinelli to thank for a quickfire first-half brace that earned a shock 2-1 win over Inter Milan, which in turn boosted the Serie A strugglers’ survival hopes. But coach Davide Nicola didn’t see either goal, because he was too busy looking for lozenges to soothe his sore throat. “I didn’t see the goals because I went to take my throat sweets,” he admitted after the game. Nicola was later banished to the stands for dissent, but saw his side claim a fifth win to close to within fourth-from-bottom Empoli, who are propping up the safety zone. “It will be a difficult run-in, but we want to take this dream all the way,” said Nicola.