Juventus extended their lead at the top of Serie A to five points as Paulo Dybala netted a double in a 2-1 win over Udinese in Turin.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side had been given a scare, prior to Dybala’s brace, as the champions fell behind when Gianluigi Buffon committed another error.
The Italy goalkeeper had been hoping to bounce back from a mistake against Spain in World Cup qualifying, but he was at fault as Jakub Jankto fired Udinese into the lead.
While that was the first goal Juve had conceded in five games in all competitions, they responded in fine fashion as Dybala’s free-kick levelled the scores before half-time.
The former Palermo man coolly tucked away a penalty after the restart to put Juve in front – his fourth in three games in all competitions – and they were able to see out victory from there.
Despite the narrow margin of victory, this could prove to be a vital success for Allegri’s men, having selected a much-changed line-up with a Champions League clash against Lyon to come next week.
Juve were at their opponents from the off, with Dybala rifling an early shot into the side-netting.
However, their momentum soon slowed, although Mario Mandzukic directed Juan Cuadrado’s cross wide and the Colombian later lashed over.
Another chance came and went when Dybala’s attempt deflected kindly for Mandzukic, but the former Atletico Madrid man could not keep his prod down from close range.
And Juve were soon made to pay for their profligacy as Buffon committed another error.
Jankto had blasted way off target moments earlier, but, with the ball again presented to him, he struck hard and low. Veteran goalkeeper Buffon had looked set for a routine save until the shot squirmed through his arms and into the net.
Stephan Lichtsteiner whipped an effort wide of the near post as Juve sought an immediate reprieve that did arrive through Dybala.
Stepping up to a free-kick – dead centre, 25 yards from goal – the Argentine swirled a glorious strike into the top corner, leaving the sprawling Orestis Karnezis in its wake.
As in the first half, Dybala started the second period in sprightly fashion, darting through to fire straight at the keeper.
And, when Alex Sandro was fouled by Rodrigo de Paul on the corner of the penalty area, Dybala was presented another opportunity to double his tally – which he duly took.
Alex Sandro then nodded wide with the goal at his mercy, following Lichtsteiner’s cross, before Dybala had a hat-trick goal ruled out for offside.
Cuadrado shot tamely at Karnezis, before Buffon again fumbled as Cyril Thereau’s effort was turned around the post.
The Juve goalkeeper would not add another costly mistake to his collection, though, instead making a smart late save, as the hosts closed out another win.
Key Opta stats:
– Juventus won their 20th consecutive Serie A home game after conceding the first goal of the match for the first time this season.
– Udinese have found the net in Serie A after 255 minutes without a goal in the top flight.
– Dybala scored his fourth brace in Serie A since the start of 2016: only Gonzalo Higuain (7) has scored 2+ goals more times in this period in the league.
– Buffon was played in his 350th Serie A game.
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