Juventus beats Sassuolo 3-0 to go 11 points clear in Serie A
MILAN (AP) — Juventus is starting to entertain.
Often winning by a solitary goal in the first half of the season, Juventus has now scored three goals in two straight matches.
However, there was little sign of the defensive frailties that cost it dearly in last week's 3-3 draw against Parma as the Bianconeri cruised to a 3-0 win at Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday.
"Getting the win was important after the game against Parma," midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. "We played well last Saturday, but it was really important to take home the three points today.
"We need to continue in this vein right until the end as good performances in Serie A will give us confidence for the Champions League. Physically we're improving and we've been working really hard in training — you could see that today. However, we want to do even more."
Cristiano Ronaldo, who turned 34 last week, had a hand in all three goals. The Portugal forward saw his swerving shot parried by Andrea Consigli in the 23rd minute but Sami Khedira was on hand to fire in the rebound.
Ronaldo had a goal ruled out for offside shortly after halftime but he did get on the scoresheet in the 70th when he headed in a corner.
It was his 18th league goal, two clear of Atalanta forward Duvan Zapata in the race for the top scorer award.
Ronaldo also set up Juve's third. After some delightful interplay with Paulo Dybala, Ronaldo picked out substitute Emre Can who scored with his first touch.
Juventus moved 11 points clear of second-placed Napoli as it continues its seemingly unstoppable march to a record-extending eighth successive Serie A title. In the Champions League, it plays at Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the round-of-16 match on Feb. 20.
NEW BOYS SHINE
AC Milan's two new signings combined to keep the Rossoneri firmly on track for a Champions League berth.
Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek, who were signed last month for a combined total of 70 million euros ($79 million), both scored as Milan beat Cagliari 3-0 to move back into fourth spot.
It was Piatek's fourth goal in three starts for the Rossoneri but Paqueta's first for Milan and he dedicated it to the victims of the fire at the training ground of his former club Flamengo. The fire killed 10 of the Brazilian club's academy players.
"Scoring for Milan is a dream come true, as it was to play for Milan, but I lived at Flamengo for years and that was my home," Paqueta said.
Milan's opener was an own-goal as Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno parried Suso's effort and it came off teammate Luca Ceppitelli.
Milan is one point above Atalanta, Roma and Lazio. The top four in Serie A qualify for next season's Champions League.
Joao Pedro saw his attempt hit the crossbar for Cagliari after Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had first pulled off a brilliant save to deny the Brazilian. It was the 19-year-old Donnarumma's 150th competitive appearance for Milan.
Cagliari is three points above the relegation zone.
Duvan Zapata kept up his scoring streak to help Atalanta come from behind to beat Spal 2-1 and keep up its push for a Champions League place.
It was Zapata's 15th goal in his last 10 Serie A appearances.
Udinese is just one point from the drop after it had two goals disallowed, saw a penalty saved, hit the bar and had a player sent off in a dramatic final 20 minutes before losing 1-0 at Torino.
Spal slipped to just four points off the drop zone, and relegation-threatened Bologna drew against Genoa 1-1.
Frosinone pulled off a shock 1-0 win at Sampdoria.