SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 31 - 7 Apr 2018 (14.00 UK)
2 - 4 Juventus
Dybala 16, pens 45, 74 (J), Diabate 24, 50 (J), Douglas Costa 82 (J)
Stadio Ciro Vigorito

Juventus were forced into an extremely tough 90 minutes to conquer Benevento 4-2 after a Paulo Dybala hat-trick and Douglas Costa scorcher.

It was bottom against top at the Stadio Vigorito with an incredible 65 points separating the sides going into Week 31. The Bianconeri had to shake off the midweek 3-0 home defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final and completely transformed the line-up, starting only Paulo Dybala because he was sent off and will be suspended for the second leg. Le Streghe were fresh from a 3-0 victory over Hellas Verona that kept very slim hopes of survival going, but Gaetano Letizia and Fabio Lucioni were suspended with Marco D’Alessandro, Vittorio Parigini, Ledian Memushaj and Luca Antei injured.

Cheick Diabate and Bacary Sagna were unable to make the most of a promising counter and moments later Juve took the lead. Juan Cuadrado knocked down the ball for Dybala on the edge of the box, whose left-foot curler into the far top corner was Del Piero-esque. He celebrated with a T-Shirt bearing a happy birthday message for his mother.

Benevento fought back, Wojciech Szczesny smothering a Sandro strike from a corner, and got themselves a deserved equaliser. Szczesny already performed a stunning one-handed save to deny Filip Djuricic, but Guilherme reacted quickly and put it back across the face of goal for Cheick Diabate to tap in, getting there before Alex Sandro.

Juan Cuadrado wasted the chance to restore Juve’s lead, dragging wide after he was sent clear on a long ball, then Mario Mandzukic had the ball in the net from close range, but only after the ball had bounced off his arm.

Enrico Brignola’s shot was charged down, but the half ended amid controversy. Pjanic nutmegged one player and was tripped by Djimsiti from six yards, but the referee waved play on. It seemed a pretty clear penalty, which the referee agreed with after viewing the images again on the touchline. Dybala sent Puggioni the wrong way to complete his brace in stoppages.

Still Benevento kept coming and on the stroke of half-time a corner flew past the head of unmarked Sandro. They did draw level yet again from a set play, as Diabate out-jumped Medhi Benatia to steer a looping header into the far top corner with Szczesny rooted to the spot.

It remained wide open with chances at both ends for Venuti and Marchisio, while Pjanic smacked his free kick wide. The Bosnian proved decisive at the other end, because a corner took a strange swerve and went slightly behind Guilherme, allowing Pjanic to scramble it clear.

Nicolas Viola blasted over, but Viola was then at fault for another Juventus penalty, sticking out a leg in front of Gonzalo Higuain, who in turn did nothing to avoid it and left his leg dangling. Dybala converted again to complete his hat-trick.

Benevento came flying back at them and Szczesny had to rush off his line to push the ball off Pietro Iemmello’s feet. However, Douglas Costa provided a moment of magic, cutting inside from the right flank to send a scorching left-foot finish into the far top corner.

The bottom of the table club must be commended for this performance, as in stoppages Viola stung Szczesny's palms and it went inches wide of the upright.

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: Puggioni; Sagna, Djimsiti, Tosca, Venuti; Viola, Sandro (Del Pinto 80); Guilherme, Djuricic, Brignola (Cataldi 62); Diabate (Iemmello 69)
Juventus: Szczesny; Lichtsteiner, Benatia, Rugani, Alex Sandro; Marchisio (Higuain 62), Pjanic, Matuidi; Cuadrado (Douglas Costa 58), Dybala; Mandzukic (Khedira 72)
Ref: Pasqua