Juventus recovered from a scare, as SPAL had an equaliser disallowed, to secure a 4-1 victory including a Federico Bernardeschi stunner.
The Bianconeri closed back up on the top two at the weekend, winning 6-2 at Udinese despite going down to 10 men after 25 minutes. Mario Mandzukic was therefore suspended with Blaise Matuidi, Stefano Sturaro, Medhi Benatia, Marko Pjaca and Benedikt Howedes injured, while Claudio Marchisio and Mattia De Sciglio were only fit for the bench. Gigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini were also rested. SPAL started the season well with a draw at Lazio and win over Udinese, but had since scraped one point from six rounds.
Federico Bernardeschi made the most of his rare start with a magnificent opening goal, as Douglas Costa flicked it up on the edge of the box and the ex-Fiorentina forward set it up with his right foot, then smashed his left-foot volley into the far top corner. Alfred Gomis could only watch it dip viciously.
Paulo Dybala curled a trademark free kick into the near top corner to end his mini-goal drought and double Juve’s lead.
However, SPAL got back into it, as a corner found Federico Mattiello’s shot and it was going wide until Alberto Paloschi stuck out a foot to prod in at the back post. Stephan Lichtsteiner lost his man on the marking.
SPAL very nearly equalised at the dawn of the second half, as first Andrea Barzagli had to fling himself in the path of Paloschi’s shot, then from the resulting corner Paloschi hit the bar and Marios Oikonomou turned in the rebound, but the striker was offside.
It was a scare that served to wake the Bianconeri up. A Miralem Pjanic corner ricocheted around until Gonzalo Higuain fired in the rebound from close range.
Moments later, Douglas Costa whipped in a cross for the Juan Cuadrado diving header at the back post.
SPAL remained dangerous on set plays, Bartosz Salamon’s header smothered by Wojciech Szczesny, and Higuain thought he’d scored his 100th Serie A goal on a Claudio Marchisio assist, but was offside.