Vlahović nets twice and apologizes to teammate McKennie as Juventus goes top in Italy




Juventus' Dusan Vlahovic, center, scores his side's opening goal during the Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Hellas Verona, at the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. (Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse via AP)
Spread the love

MILAN — Dušan Vlahović continued his scoring streak with two goals to help Juventus win 3-0 at Lecce and move top of Serie A on Sunday.

Vlahović netted both goals in the second half — although he had to apologize to teammate Weston McKennie for the second one — to take his tally to six in the past five matches. Gleison Bremer scored Juve’s other goal late on.

Juventus moved a point above Inter Milan, which is involved in the Italian Super Cup final in Saudi Arabia on Monday. The Bianconeri could even be four points clear by the time Inter next plays in Serie A — at Fiorentina next Sunday — as Massimiliano Allegri’s team hosts Empoli the day before.

Inter hosts Juventus on Feb. 4.

Lecce hadn’t won in more than a month and was desperate to move away from danger, and Juventus found it harder than it might have expected.

McKennie enjoyed the best of the early opportunities and had a header nodded off the line by Lecce forward Nikola Krstović, who celebrated almost as if he had scored at the other end.

It was a battle for every ball but Juventus finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute. After a swift counterattack, Kenan Yıldız’s attempt was parried by Wladimiro Falcone but Andrea Cambiaso did well to get to the loose ball and cross it back in for Vlahović to finish off with a scuffed volley.

If Vlahović’s first was somewhat fortuitous, his second — nine minutes later — was a poacher’s goal.

McKennie’s header from a tight angle looked to be going in but Vlahović rushed in to prod the ball in just before it crossed the line.

McKennie could only smile wryly and Vlahović went across to apologize to the United States international before play resumed.

Juventus sealed the match five minutes from time when Samuel Iling Junior floated in a free kick from the right and Bremer leapt above everyone for a powerful header from close range.

PERFECT HAT TRICK

Szymon Żurkowski continued to enjoy a fantastic start to life back at Empoli as he scored his first-ever hat trick to help the Tuscan team beat Monza 3-0 and hand coach David Nicola a memorable debut.

Żurkowski had netted less than 10 minutes into his debut last week, in a 2-1 defeat at Hellas Verona. The Poland midfielder did even better on Sunday by scoring two goals in the first half — one with his right foot and one with his head — and completing a perfect hat trick when he fired in with his left foot in the 73rd minute.

The 26-year-old Żurkowski joined from Spezia earlier this month for his third loan spell at Empoli.

It was Nicola’s first match in charge at Empoli after replacing the fired Aurelio Andreazzoli on Monday.

Empoli moved to within two points of safety and 17th-place Cagliari after only its fourth win of the season and its first in more than two months.

RELEGATION FIGHTS

Frosinone snapped a run of five straight losses by coming back to beat fellow struggler Cagliari 3-1.

Ibrahim Sulemana had given Cagliari the halftime lead in the relegation six-pointer but Luca Mazzitelli headed in the equalizer in the 64th and Matías Soulé curled in a free kick 11 minutes later before Kaio Jorge sealed the win in stoppages.

Frosinone moved five points clear of the relegation zone, with Cagliari just a point above the bottom three.

Genoa continued to climb away from danger as it recovered from conceding with 90 seconds to win 2-1 at bottom club Salernitana.