Juventus bounced back from defeat to AC Milan last time out to record a 4-1 victory over Sampdoria in Turin.
The Serie A champions went down 1-0 at San Siro on Saturday, but were back to somewhere near their best on Wednesday, roaring into a two-goal lead inside the opening nine minutes.
Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring with a header for his first goal of the season and shortly afterwards Giorgio Chiellini nodded in from a corner.
That early quick-fire double may have had Samp fans fearing a repeat of last season’s 5-0 drubbing on the same ground, but the visitors – struggling in the lower reaches of the table – pulled one back after the break
through Patrik Schick, following Chiellini’s error.
Any hopes of a comeback were soon dashed, however, as Miralem Pjanic added a scruffy third midway through the second period and Chiellini completed an eventful outing with his second to ensure Juve’s advantage over Roma at the summit remains at two points.
Claudio Marchisio, on his first appearance since a serious knee injury suffered in April, managed 72 minutes on his return, although there was concern when Patrice Evra was forced off with what appeared to be a calf injury late in the first half.
Mandzukic was restored to the starting line-up as one of six changes from that defeat to Milan and Massimiliano Allegri’s decision yielded swift reward.
Juan Cuadrado skipped away from his man down the right in the fourth minute and whipped in a devilish cross which Mandzukic met with a simple free header from close range.
The lead was doubled five minutes later as Pjanic swung over a corner and Chiellini rose highest to power a header past Christian Puggioni from six yards.
Juve continued to look a threat whenever they came forward and neat interplay between Pjanic, Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain resulted in the latter firing into the side-netting just prior to the half-hour mark.
Samp finally awoke from their slumber and Jacopo Sala brought a fine low save out of Neto – starting in place of the rested Gianluigi Buffon – but the Brazilian was beaten 12 minutes after the restart.
Chiellini was at fault, presenting the ball to Dennis Praet, who strode forward into the area and cut the ball back for Schick to sweep home first time with his left foot.
But Juve’s two-goal lead was restored within eight minutes as a scramble inside the Samp area eventually saw the ball fall kindly for Pjanic, who thumped home through a narrow gap at the near post.
Higuain, who endured a frustrating evening, was thwarted by Puggioni with 15 minutes remaining and the Argentina star will hope for better fortunes against his former club Napoli on Saturday.
With three minutes left on the clock Chiellini showed his team-mate how it is done – although the defender could hardly miss a free header from six yards following another excellent Cuadrado delivery.
Key Opta stats:
– Juventus have conceded a goal in three Serie A games in a row, the first time since November.
– Mario Mandzukic has scored after 10 Serie A games without a goal (April 24 against Fiorentina).
– Mandzukic has scored after 763 minutes played without goals with Juventus (all competitions).
– Prior to today Giorgio Chiellini’s last Serie A goal was back in May against Sampdoria – his last Serie A brace was back in April 2008.
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