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Serie A Review: Dybala Lifts Juve While Milan Save Draw

Paulo Dybala scored two goals in his return to the starting XI as Juventus were made to fight for a 3-1 win over Verona on Saturday.

Blaise Matuidi put home a rebound after Gonzalo Higuain struck the post to put Juventus ahead in the sixth minute, though the hosts struck back when Martin Caceres delivered a blast from distance to equalise against his former club.

But Dybala, who was making his first Serie A start since Dec. 1, proved to be the distance as he turned in Stephan Lichtsteiner’s pass in the 72nd minute before adding a second goal five minutes later.

As they try to win the Scudetto for a seventh straight season, Juventus end 2017 one point back of leaders Napoli, who defeated Crotone 1-0 on Friday.

Hakan Calhanoglu spared AC Milan from ending the year with a defeat by scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.

Giovanni Simeone’s second-half header set Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan on a course to lose their third straight Serie A match but Turkey international Calhanoglu acted quickly to spare their blushes.

Roma’s bid to break into Serie A’s top three at the halfway stage of the season was thwarted in part by two video assistant referee decisions as they drew 1-1 against Sassuolo.

Eusebio Di Francesco was leading the Giallorossi against his former employers and it was another man to have switched to the Stadio Olimpico, Lorenzo Pellegrini, who opened the scoring.

After the break Edin Dzeko thought he had notched his ninth goal this term but VAR decided he had been offside and, minutes later, Simone Missiroli levelled for Sassuolo with a well-placed header.

Alessandro Florenzi found the back of the net with five minutes remaining, only for VAR to intervene once more. The point left Roma just outside the Champions League spots.

The point kept Roma two behind Inter Milan, who could only labour to a goalless draw with Lazio at San Siro.

Lazio’s Ciro Immobile won a penalty in the second half, but VAR overturned the referee’s decision, with Mauro Icardi heading just wide for Inter late on.

There was unbridled joy at Benevento’s Stadio Ciro Vigorito on Saturday afternoon as the promoted club finally celebrated a first top-flight victory thanks to Massimo Coda’s first strike of the campaign.

Benevento had just one point on the board after 18 games but Coda sealed a 1-0 win over Chievo to spark the faintest glimmer of hope they will be able to battle for survival in 2018.

Kevin Lasagna scored his fifth goal in as many matches as Udinese recovered to triumph 2-1 at Bologna.

Danilo’s own goal gave the Rossoblu the upper hand before the half-hour mark but defender Silvan Widmer levelled with a bullet header.

Following the interval, Lasagna slotted Rodrigo De Paul’s pass home to lift Udinese above Milan.

Ten-man Cagliari held on to claim a 2-1 success over Atalanta in Bergamo.

Leonardo Pavoletti fired the Sardinians ahead with six minutes gone and Simone Padoin tucked Diego Farias’ cross away to give Cagliari a comfortable lead.

Right at the death, though, Alejandro Gomez slashed the deficit and Senna Miangue’s dismissal for a second bookable offence made for a tense finale.

Sampdoria sustained their push for European football as Fabio Quagliarella scored two last-gasp goals in a 2-0 home win against SPAL.

The veteran striker broke the deadlock from the penalty spot when Emiliano Viviani brought down Gaston Ramirez and Quagliarella doubled up from a Dawid Kownacki assist in the dying seconds.

Elsewhere, Torino and Genoa ground out a goalless draw.