Juventus continued to lose ground in their pursuit of Serie A leaders Inter Milan after a 2-2 draw with struggling Verona registered a fourth match without a win.

They had to come from behind twice to take a point that leaves them nine points adrift of their rivals and they should have done better with several late chances.

Verona made the brighter start and they were rewarded with a stunning strike by Michael Folorunsho in the 12th minute.

Tomas Suslov’s corner was headed clear by Adrien Rabiot but the ball only reached Folorunsho just outside the area and the Italian midfielder let rip with a screaming volley off his left foot.

The shot flew into the top left corner, giving Wojciech Szczesny no chance of making a save.

Juventus clawed their way level from the penalty spot with Dusan Vlahovic converting after VAR showed Jackson Tchatchoua had handled the ball, referee Marco Di Bello initially believing the ball had deflected off his knee.

Despite the equaliser, Verona were still in control as they went about their work with greater intent.

Their second goal arrived eight minutes after the interval, Tijjani Noslin showing composure and athleticism to steer the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

But Verona’s defence then imploded as they allowed Juventus to work the ball to an unmarked Rabiot, who had the time and space to pick his shot and pull the trigger.

Darko Lazovic forced a sharp save by Szczęsny before drama unfolded in the other goal when Rabiot’s cross with the outside of his foot was met by Vlahovic but the Serbian’s header was off-target.

It was a poor miss by Vlahovic and, as the match entered the final 10 minutes, substitute Federico Chiesa blazed a reasonable chance over the crossbar.

Juventus had one more opportunity to take all three points in injury-time but a well worked move ended with Chiesa prodding the ball wide.

It means Inter have a firm grip on the title race with a game in hand on Juve, while AC Milan can take second place from Massimiliano Allegri’s men with a victory at Monza on Sunday.

Massimiliano Allegri challenged his Juventus side to pay “attention to detail” when they travel to Verona for Saturday’s Serie A clash.

Juve sit seven points behind league leaders Inter Milan, who have a game in hand, and are in search of their first win in four attempts following losses to Udinese and the table-toppers, which came after a 1-1 draw with Empoli that saw Arkadiusz Milik sent off in the 18th minute.

Verona sit third-from-bottom with four wins in 24 matches but, with just six points separating 19th-placed Cagliari from Lecce in 13th, will be desperate to gain any advantage on fellow relegation-threatened clubs.

Allegri told a press conference: “We’ve earned a point in two games at home and that’s not good, tomorrow will be a complicated away match, Verona are in a difficult situation but are doing well. We need to work on our attitude not only in terms of performance, but above all in terms of attention to detail.

“Our performances have not been worse, even on a numerical level, but we must analyse everything, beyond the result. Against Udinese, we made a mistake on an inactive ball and we were punished, this is football. Details are important.

“We have to learn what didn’t go well over the last few games. The performances were good and we have to start from there. The management will then work to strengthen the team for next year, because we hope to play many more matches.”

Allegri revealed he will have “everyone available” for the trip to Verona and, while forward Federico Chiesa has been linked to a summer transfer to the Premier League, emphasised that the 26-year-old will be “very important to us for the rest of the season.”

Juventus have not won a trophy since lifting the Coppa Italia in 2021, but the boss was confident his  side are on the right trajectory, remaining one point clear of third-placed AC Milan and with an 11-point advantage over Atalanta in the fourth Champions League place.

They also remain alive in the Coppa Italia and will host Lazio in the first leg of their semi-final on April 2.

Allegri added: “It’s true that we haven’t won a trophy for some time, but we have an Italian Cup that we can try to win and we have a path that we have started. Furthermore, never having been out of the Champions League for 11 years in a row is important when rebuilding.

“The most important thing for us now is to get a result tomorrow and then we have to achieve our main objective, which is Champions League qualification. We have three beautiful months ahead to look forward to, with passion and the desire to achieve results.”

Lautaro Giannetti dealt Juventus’ Serie A title hopes a potentially fatal blow as he grabbed the only goal of the game to earn a stunning 1-0 win for struggling Udinese.

The visitors made the most of a sluggish performance from Massimiliano Allegri’s men, who still trail leaders Inter Milan by seven points having played a game more.

Arkadiusz Milik was guilty of wasting most of the home side’s good chances as Udinese held firm for only their second win in 13 Serie A games which moves them three points clear of the relegation zone.

Looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to Inter, Juventus looked unlikely to be duly troubled in a strong start which saw Andrea Cambiaso and Federico Chiesa come close.

Udinese goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was busy early on, saving well from Milik’s close-range header then denying Federico Gatti who should have done better from the edge of the box.

The visitors grabbed the lead against the run of play in the 25th minute when Giannetti bundled home the loose ball after a free-kick was flicked on by Thomas Kristensen deep into the home box.

Milik failed to reach a cross-shot from Cambiaso that caused panic in the Udinese box and it was clear the home side were once again missing striker Dusan Vlahovic, who was ruled out with a groin strain.

Milik headed straight at Okoye and it could have got worse for Juventus on the stroke of half-time when Sandi Lovric fired a speculative effort over from just outside the box.

Allegri’s men hardly improved after the break as they huffed forward for little reward, although they did briefly think they had levelled on the hour mark.

A corner was headed back for Milik to nod home but celebrations were cut short as the referee ruled the ball had drifted out of play in the course of the initial set-piece.

Chiesa rammed a 72nd-minute effort over the bar while Kenan Yildiz was inches from connecting with Cambiaso’s left-wing cross in front of goal as Udinese managed to hold on for a famous win.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri will equal Marcello Lippi’s mark of 405 games in charge of the club in Monday’s home game against Udinese.

Allegri will draw level with former great Lippi in Juve’s all-time list and behind only Giovanni Trapattoni, who was head coach for 454 matches between 1976 and 1986.

Juve will cut the gap on Serie A leaders Inter Milan to four points with victory and Allegri acknowledged it will be a special occasion for him.

The 56-year-old told a press conference: “I’m very proud to hit 405 games in charge of Juventus, especially because it puts me level with a coach like Lippi, someone who wrote history and someone whom I have a lot of affection for.”

Allegri has guided Juve to five Serie A titles and two Champions League finals – they lost both – during his two spells as head coach.

Lippi also won five domestic titles in two separate stints in charge and was a Champions League winner with the club in 1996. He also led them to three other Champions League finals.

Allegri is hoping his current side can consolidate their place in the top four by returning to winning ways against Udinese after last week’s 1-0 defeat at Inter, who extended their lead at the top by winning 4-2 at Roma on Saturday.

“We didn’t learn (on Saturday) night that Inter are the favourites and that they’re doing great things,” Allegri said.

“We’ve got 53 points and it’s important to get back to winning ways. We need to pull further clear of fifth place and go within four points of first.

“We have no shortage of motivation. We want to get back into the Champions League and on Monday, even if it’s not decisive, it is a very important game. Mentally we’re in good shape.”

Udinese have taken just two points from their last five league games and sit above the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Their solitary win on the road this season was against AC Milan in November.

Allegri said: “Udinese don’t deserve to be where they are in the table. They’ve dropped a lot of points late on in matches, but they have excellent players. They’re physical and they deserve respect.”

Juve’s new signing Carlos Alcaraz made his debut as a late substitute at Inter last week and is hoping to feature again following his loan move from Southampton earlier this month.

Allegri added: “Alcaraz has a lot of quality and the potential to improve. He’s put himself at our disposal, but he’s not ready to start.”

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey signed a pre-contract agreement with Juventus on this day in 2019.

It was announced by the Serie A club that Ramsey, then 28, had agreed a four-year deal and would officially join on July 1, the day after his Arsenal contract expired.

Confirmation of the move ended considerable speculation over the future of the Wales international, who turned down a new deal at the Emirates Stadium.

Juventus had long been the favourites for Ramsey’s signature despite a host of other top European clubs, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich, being linked.

In a statement issued on his social media platforms, Ramsey wrote: “I wanted to issue a personal statement for all the Arsenal fans who have been extremely loyal and supportive.

“You welcomed me as a teenager and have been there for me through all the highs and lows I have encountered during my time at the club.

“It is with a heavy heart that I leave after 11 incredible years in north London. Thank you.

“I will continue to give the team 100 per cent and hope to finish the season strongly, before heading on to my next chapter in Turin.”

A statement from the Gunners read: “Everyone at Arsenal Football Club wishes Aaron Ramsey a happy and successful future.

“Aaron’s made a fantastic contribution to our club since joining from Cardiff City in 2008. He has always been a consummate professional and will always have a special place in the hearts and memories of Arsenal fans around the world.”

Following his departure from Arsenal, Ramsey played 70 times for Juventus, winning the Serie A title once.

He was loaned out to Rangers before joining Nice on a free transfer. Ramsey re-joined Cardiff last summer after his contract with Nice was terminated by mutual consent.

Ramsey, now 33, scored three times in his opening six games for the Bluebirds, but has been sidelined since September with a knee injury.

Inter Milan moved four points clear at the top of Serie A with a 1-0 win over title rivals Juventus 1-0 in the Derby d’Italia at the San Siro.

The Nerazzurri made the breakthrough just before half-time when Juve defender Federico Gatti diverted a cross into his own net.

Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny produced a fine late save from Inter substitute Marko Arnautovic as Simone Inzaghi’s men put themselves firmly in the driving seat for the Scudetto.

Charles De Ketelaere scored twice as Atalanta consolidated their place in the top four with a 3-1 win over Lazio at the Gewiss Stadium.

Napoli came from behind to beat Verona 2-1 and close back up on the top six.

Cyril Ngonge scored against his former club to equalise after Diego Coppola’s opener with 20 minutes left before a fine strike from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in the closing stages completed the turnaround.

Bottom club Salernitana fought out a goalless draw at Torino, but remain five points adrift of safety.

Real Madrid missed the chance to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga after derby rivals Atletico Madrid scored a stoppage-time equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.

Girona were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Sociedad on Saturday, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men could not make the most of their opportunity which could have sent them four points clear.

Brahim Diaz – drafted into the side after Vinicius Junior suffered a problem during the warm-up, so started on the bench – put Real ahead from close range after 20 minutes.

Atletico saw Stefan Savic’s goal early in the second half ruled out by VAR for offside, but eventually were level through a looping header from Marcos Llorente in the third minute of added time to leave the home fans stunned.

Celta Vigo had earlier edged clear of the bottom three with a 3-0 win at Osasuna, while fellow relegation-battlers Cadiz picked up a point from a goalless draw at Villarreal.

Real Betis and Getafe drew 1-1 at the Estadio Benito Villamarin. Mason Greenwood put the visitors ahead through an early penalty before Isco’s spot-kick levelled things up ahead of the break.

RB Leipzig ended a three-game Bundesliga losing streak to get their top-four challenge back on track with a 2-0 win over Union Berlin, who finished with 10 men.

Lois Openda and Benjamin Sesko were on target either side of half-time, before Union captain Christopher Trimmel was shown a straight red card with 20 minutes left.

Lovro Majer scored twice in the second half as Wolfsburg came from behind to draw 2-2 against Hoffenheim at the Volkswagen Arena.


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In Ligue 1, Canada forward Jonathan David scored twice as Lille comfortably beat Clermont 4-0 at Stade Pierre-Mauroy to keep up their top-four challenge ahead of Monaco, who drew 1-1 with Le Havre.

Second-placed Nice and Brest, who are third, cancelled each other out in a goalless draw at Stade Francis-Le Ble.

In Sunday’s late match, Alexandre Lacazette was on target with his 10th league goal as relegation-battlers Lyon beat Marseille 1-0 to move three points clear of the drop zone.

Panos Katseris’ second-half goal helped secure Lorient a 2-1 victory at fellow strugglers Metz, while Toulouse held off a second-half fightback to win 3-2 at Reims.

Inter Milan edged out Juventus 1-0 in the Derby d’Italia to move four points clear at the top of Serie A.

There was little to choose between the sides at San Siro, but the Nerazzurri made the crucial breakthrough just before half-time when Juve defender Federico Gatti diverted a cross into his own net.

Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny produced a fine late save from Inter substitute Marko Arnautovic as Simone Inzaghi’s men put themselves firmly in the driving seat for the Scudetto.

Inter had started brightly, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s long-range effort deflecting just wide.

Federico Dimarco went close in the 18th minute when he met a cross from Benjamin Pavard at the back post, but sent a volley into the side-netting.

Hakan Calhanoglu picked out Dimarco with a crossfield pass, which the Inter winger then laid on to Marcus Thuram, who looked set to slot the ball in – but Juve’s Brazilian defender Bremer made a superb saving tackle.

Juve threatened when Weston McKennie pushed forwards and played in Dusan Vlahovic, but the Serbian forward’s first touch was too heavy.

Inter – playing a first match at home in a month after two away trips were sandwiched by Super Cup success in Saudi Arabia – eventually made their pressure count in the 37th minute.

After Pavard missed his scissor-kick at a cross in from the right, Thuram just failed to connect with his diving header as the ball bobbled towards goal, then bounced off Gatti for an own goal.

After a slow start to the second half, Inter almost doubled their lead just before the hour when Calhanoglu’s shot hit the outside of the post.

Gatti nearly made amends with an equaliser when his shot flew just wide, before Szczesny saved from Nicolo Barella.

With three minutes left, Szczesny produced a brilliant save at full stretch to deny Arnautovic at point-blank range as he looked to knock in a cross through the Juve penalty area from fellow substitute Denzel Dumfries.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side suffered just a second league defeat of the season, bringing to an end their 19-match unbeaten run through all competitions.

Inter Milan manager Simone Inzaghi insists Sunday’s clash with Juventus will not be decisive in the Serie A title race.

Italy’s top two clubs do battle at the San Siro with only one point separating the sides and the winner guaranteed to finish the weekend at the summit.

It will be leaders Inter’s first match at home in a month after two away trips were sandwiched by Super Cup success in Saudi Arabia and they could take a big step towards a first title since 2021 with all three points.

“Tomorrow’s match is very important, but not decisive,” Inzaghi told a press conference.

“It will be very close, in the first leg (game) it was not an exciting match, but now we are playing at home in front of our fans and we will try to play a match in the best possible way.

“Juventus had a great journey, similar to ours, we are preparing as best we can .

“Both teams will have pressure, we must be happy to play this great match. There will be pressure as it should be, but we must be proud to play this challenge, we will have the push of the fans who we want to make happy.”

Inter have won 17 of their 21 Serie A matches and could open up a four-point gap at the top with a game in hand with victory over Juventus.

The first clash between the teams ended 1-1 back in November, but the hosts will be without former Juventus ace Juan Cuadrado due to injury.

Inzaghi added: “There has been a lot of talk about favourites, we are Inter and we know we have great responsibilities in every match.

“We have already played 30 very positive ones, in January we played five matches in 22 days, of which the last four were away from San Siro and we won a trophy.

“We have to look ahead though, we want to make this match ours. I wouldn’t make comparisons though, there are still four months to go and it’s not yet decisive.”

Inzaghi has won eight cups since becoming a manager, but not tasted Serie A success.

Opposite number Massimiliano Allegri has won six Scudettos, five of them during his first spell with Juventus.

However, Inzaghi, 47, played down suggestions the match will be decided by the two coaches, with Allegri winning nine of their 18 meetings.


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“I have great respect for Allegri. Fortunately we have won a lot with Juventus, even if we have also lost in recent years,” Inzaghi said.

“The challenge is not Inzaghi-Allegri, but Inter-Juventus. The protagonists are the players who go on the pitch to help their teams.

“Allegri has won a lot, he is a winning and expert coach. He is very practical, I like him a lot.

“I think I saw an excellent Juventus this year. They won 16 games out of 21. They were very good, to keep the Inter’s pace required a super team and they are proving to be one.”

Juventus have signed Southampton midfielder Carlos Alcaraz on loan for the rest of the season with an option to buy.

The 21-year-old Argentinian has scored four goals in 26 appearances for Saints this season, with Russell Martin’s side third in the Championship as they seek an immediate return to the Premier League.

Southampton director of football Jason Wilcox told the club website: “Allowing Charly to leave on loan was a decision that we have been deliberating on for some time.

“Considering the midfield options we have available to us right now, and Charly’s lack of game time, we wanted to allow him this chance to gain some valuable experience in one of the top leagues in Europe.

“Juventus are a huge club and we are convinced that this move will allow Charly the opportunity to flourish and then come back and be a success at Southampton.”

Massimiliano Allegri’s side sit second in Serie A, one point behind leaders Inter having played a game more.

Ten-man Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Empoli after losing Arkadiusz Milik to an early red card.

The Serie A leaders were a man down before the midway point of the first half when Milik, who had hit a hat-trick on his last start in a 4-0 Coppa Italia win over Frosinone two weeks ago, was sent off following a VAR review for a late studs-up challenge.

Dusan Vlahovic fired Juventus in front with his fifth goal in three games at the start of the second half, but Tommaso Baldanzi equalised for Empoli as the hosts’ seven-match winning run in all competitions came to an end.

Juventus went close after only six minutes as Vlahovic, who had scored a brace in each of his side’s last two games, forced Elia Caprile to tip his free-kick around a post.

But they were stunned after 18 minutes when his fellow striker Milik was sent off.

The Poland international was initially booked after appearing to catch Alberto Cerri high on the ankle with his studs when he slid in for a challenge, but the yellow was upgraded to red following a review.

Juventus were happy to sit back now they were a man down and Nicolo Cambiaghi saw a deflected effort saved by Wojciech Szczesny, who also comfortably dealt with Emmanuel Gyasi’s header.

The hosts had a golden chance to take a lead just before the break when Gyasi gifted the ball to Fabio Miretti, who burst through on goal but failed to hit the target.

However, they struck five minutes after the break.

Empoli failed to deal with a corner swung over from the right and the ball dropped for Vlahovic, who spun and slammed home a left-foot volley from close range.

The hosts threatened again when Vlahovic sent a pass into Andrea Cambiaso, who slipped when he looked set to run through on goal.

But second-bottom Empoli, the lowest scorers in the division, levelled in the 70th minute when substitute Baldanzi fired a long-range effort into the bottom corner.

The equaliser gave the visitors renewed belief and they pressed for a winner, with Szczesny forced to push away Cambiaghi’s effort.

But neither side could find one as Juventus had to settle for a two-point lead at the top of the table, although closest rivals Inter Milan have two games in hand.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri insists his side will face a “good challenge” when they take on struggling Empoli.

Juve are top of Serie A after losing just once in the competition all season and recording five straight wins following a 1-1 draw at Genoa in mid-December.

In contrast, Empoli are 19th in the table after four wins and four draws from 21 games, although their most recent match saw Szymon Zurkowski’s hat-trick secure a 3-0 win over Monza in Davide Nicola’s first game in charge.

“It’s an important match tomorrow,” Allegri told a pre-match press conference.

“We are well physically and mentally, but a good challenge awaits us too. Empoli deserves respect, they have quality players and coach Nicola’s arrival has given them solidity, so it won’t be an easy match.”

Juve can extend their lead over Inter Milan at the top of the table to four points on Saturday, with Simone Inzaghi’s side not in action until a trip to Fiorentina on Sunday.

The top two sides then meet at the San Siro on February 4 in a game which could go a long way to deciding the destiny of the Scudetto, although Allegri is not ruling out the challenge of AC Milan.

“After Inter-Juventus there are still many games to play, and let’s not forget Milan who scored more points than last year, have overcome a difficult period and can get back into the title race,” he added.

“The important thing is to stay balanced, keep the bar high and try to provide continuity.

“The Scudetto-winning points tally? It’s difficult to say right now, we’re up against a strong team in Inter who are favourites and have scored a lot of points. Being close to them is a great thing given that we’re on a different path.”

Federico Chiesa remains sidelined through injury and Allegri said he will decide whether to play or rest captain Danilo.

New signing Tiago Djalo has been assessed by the club’s medical staff after completing his move from Lille, the 23-year-old having not played since suffering an ACL injury last March.

“I feel good. My knee is fine,” Djalo said on Thursday. “Now it’s a question of opportunity. I’m ready. I’ll give everything for the team.

“I trained with the squad yesterday and this morning. My knee is recovering well. We’ll decide with the coach what to do. I’m very calm about it.

“I’ve come here to take an opportunity and make myself available to the coach. I know I have the attributes needed to help out. It’s just a matter of getting opportunities.”

The in-form Dusan Vlahovic struck twice in the second half as Juventus moved to the top of Serie A with a 3-0 victory over Lecce.

Juventus were frustrated for much of the first half as they looked for their fifth successive victory in the league.

The away side had to wait until the hour mark before Vlahovic made his mark on the game. He quickly added another for his 11th goal of the campaign, and second successive brace, and Gleison Bremer’s late header added the icing on the cake to lift Juventus above Inter Milan at the summit.

Juventus could have opened the scoring in the first minute after Vlahovic got on the end of a cross but could not quite guide his first-time effort on target.

Lecce threatened five minutes in as Nikola Krstovic found himself in space on the edge of the area but shot just wide.

Juventus were next to go close in the 13th minute but Filip Kostic’s strike from just inside the area kept rising over the bar. Krstovic found himself with another chance but once again lifted an effort over the crossbar.

Juventus created the first chance of the second period when an inswinging corner found the head of Weston McKennie but he nodded straight at keeper Wladimiro Falcone, who was comfortably able to deal with the danger.

The away side were having a little more joy breaking down the Lecce defence in the second period and had another chance a couple of minutes later but Vlahovic guided his diving header just wide of the far post.

Juventus broke the deadlock on the hour mark when Andrea Cambiaso lifted the ball into the box and Vlahovic volleyed into the ground and into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

Juve doubled their advantage in the 68th minute as Kostic’s cross was lifted towards McKennie at the back post, who headed across for Vlahovic to tap home his second of the evening.

The visitors claimed their 16th win of the season and added a third goal in the 85th minute when Samuel Iling-Junior’s free-kick found Bremer, who bulleted a header past Falcone.

Massimiliano Allegri will not allow his Juventus players to be distracted from their mission of qualifying for the Champions League after a year out of Europe.

A seventh-placed finish last season, thanks in part to a 10-point deduction for capital gain violations, meant the Bianconeri were not even able to compete in the Europa Conference League this term, leaving their midweeks largely free.

That has not translated into a waltz to the Serie A title, however, with leaders Inter Milan still two points out in front despite Juve winning 12 of their last 15 matches and remaining unbeaten in the league since September.

Head coach Allegri remains wary that any complacency creeping in could allow rivals like AC Milan and Fiorentina to overtake them, and he stressed that Sunday’s match at mid-table Lecce represents an excellent opportunity for his side to demonstrate how much they have improved.

He told reporters: “Playing at Lecce is difficult, they played well against Inter and Lazio, defending really well, and they’ve got good results from their last four home matches.

“We have to focus solely on getting a positive result. The main objective is to not concede – that’s happened to us in our last four away games.

“We’re still missing lots of points in our mission to qualify for the Champions League. That’s what we are chasing, that is our goal.

“We can see that Inter are doing great things, they’ve collected 51 points already and are favourites for the Scudetto. We’re improving, but we know that winning at Lecce will be complicated. Celebrating a win is always easy but you’ve got to play the game first.

“Some horses need to wear blinkers and some don’t. Those who need to wear them worry about looking at others but blinkers help you focus on what is in front of us. We haven’t achieved anything so far – we’re only halfway there.”

Federico Chiesa and Adrien Rabiot are ruled out of the game at Stadio Via del mare, with breakthrough wing-back Andrea Cambiaso unlikely to feature.

“The squad is in good shape, we’re training in the right way,” said Allegri. “We won’t have Rabiot or Chiesa tomorrow: the former has a calf problem while Federico has suffered a recurrence of his knee issue and will be assessed in the next few days.

“Cambiaso has come on a lot and I’m happy, he’s great technically and is becoming an important player for us.”

Lecce have three players absent due to the Africa Cup of Nations: Zambian striker Lameck Banda, Tunisia’s Hamza Rafia and Ahmed Touba of Algeria. Albanian defender Kastriot Dermaku faces a late fitness check.

The Apulian club are 13th but starting to look over their shoulders after losing three of their last four games and scoring only once in that period.

Dusan Vlahovic scored twice to help Juventus cut the gap behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan to two points with a 3-0 win at home to Sassuolo.

The Serbian netted his first after 15 minutes when he curled a superb effort into the top corner from 25 yards beyond goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.

And it was 2-0 minutes before half-time, Vlahovic sending a free-kick in off the crossbar as Max Allegri’s team made light work of dispatching 14th-place Sassuolo.

It takes the 23-year-old’s tally to nine goals this season and three in his last two league games, after he netted a stoppage-time winner against bottom side Salernitana in the previous game.

Substitute Federico Chiesa added a third in the closing minutes as Juve stretched their winning run in the league to four games.

Domenico Berardi had a chance to cut the arrears in the second half but failed to beat Wojciech Szczesny, as the visitors otherwise put up little resistance after falling two behind.

It was an 11th victory for Juve in their last 13 games and means they remain within striking distance of Inter in the title race.

The two are due to meet at San Siro on February 4, but before that Juve must navigate games against Lecce and Empoli to ensure they keep on Inter’s coat tails ahead of the showdown in Milan.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri insists he is planning for the longer term as well as focusing on the present and is not concerned about silencing his critics.

Allegri’s in-form side can cut the gap on Serie A leaders Inter Milan back to two points with victory at home against Sassuolo on Tuesday night.

Juve have gone three seasons without mounting a sustained challenge for the Serie A title since being crowned champions for the ninth consecutive time in 2019-20.

But Allegri does not share some fans’ obsession with reclaiming the crown this season, pointing out there is still much work to do just to secure a top-four finish.

He told a press conference: “We spoke as a team and we know that we’re still missing a lot of things to reach our goal of Champions League qualification, we’re taking things one step at a time, so tomorrow we have Sassuolo and then we’ll think about Lecce.

“We need to avoid making long-term predictions and it’s better to stay focused on the short-term.

“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’ve won the fans back on side, we’re doing well because of the guys who go out onto the pitch and win matches.

“Everybody around the team does our best to put the team in the best place to go out and do just that.

“There are two big differences between ourselves and Inter. The first is that they are a team built to win the Scudetto.

“We started off on a different path and we have to keep working without the obsession of winning the Scudetto.

“We are Juventus and we have to do our very best, but football doesn’t end on May 25. We also have to think ahead to the seasons to come for this group of players.”

Juve will be without suspended defender Federico Gatti, but Allegri confirmed both Adrien Rabiot and Federico Chiesa are back in contention after injury.

Italy striker Moise Kean has not featured since early December and is continuing to work his way back from a leg injury.

The Bianconeri are bidding to extend their unbeaten league run to 15 matches – 17 in all competitions – but lost for the only time in the league this season at Tuesday night’s opponents in September.

Allegri added: “The group has worked well, as always, in the last few days and we know the importance of tomorrow’s game.

“We had a bad night in the first game against Sassuolo and we know we’re coming up against a good team.

“The three points up for grabs tomorrow are important and we’ll have to be very careful tactically.

“Sassuolo are dangerous if you make mistakes against them, so we’ll have to be switched on.”

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