Much has been made of Paulo Dybala’s recent dip in form sparking rumours of a rift with Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri and a possible move away from Turin but the Argentinian forward responded perfectly on Saturday with a match-winning brace.
Juventus moved to within a point of Serie A leaders Napoli with victory over Verona and Dybala proved the difference.
Blaise Matuidi had given Juve an early lead after following up Gonzalo Higuaín’s shot that had cannoned off the post but Martín Caceres drew Verona level from 25 yards.
Dybala re-established the lead after 72 minutes when he expertly tucked away Stephan Lichtsteiner’s right wing cross and five minutes later the 24-year-old darted through the heart of the Verona defence to score a wonderful solo goal.
Despite admitting last week that Dybala was harmed by early comparisons to Lionel Messi, Allegri told reporters after: “When Messi and Ronaldo get older, it will be Neymar and Dybala who will be the best players in the world.
“It was important for him to score again and after that first goal, he seemed much more relaxed. He has a whole lot of football ahead of him and I know that he can keep improving.”
Earlier in the Stadio Artemio Franchi, Fiorentina allowed AC Milan to claim a point after Giovanni Simeone had given the home side the lead.
A powerful header from the 22-year-old took his Serie A tally to six for the season but the lead was short-lived as Hakan Çalhanoglu brought Milan level minutes later. It’s been a difficult first half of the season for Simeone since his big money move to Florence and the former River Plate striker will be aiming to kick on in 2018.
Papu Gómez hasn’t had the electrifying season he enjoyed last season but the pint-sized Atalanta captain struck his fourth goal of the season on Saturday. Sadly for La Dea it was nothing more a consolation as Cagliari’s two first half goals proved to be enough. Papu was a constant threat and had come close earlier but had to wait until stoppage time to volley a goal back.