Juventus rises to 2nd; AC Milan sinks


MILAN — Juventus climbed to second in Serie A after a star turn from Miralem Pjanic led the reigning champion to a comfortable win at Bologna Sunday, while AC Milan sunk further into crisis with a loss at lowly Hellas Verona.

Massimiliano Allegri's Juve is on 41 points, just a point behind leader Napoli after leapfrogging Inter Milan, which suffered its first defeat of the season, 3-1 to Udinese, Saturday.

Juventus won 3-0. Pjanic opened the scoring with a stunning 27th-minute freekick. The Bosnian turned provider nine minutes later, clipping a beautiful pass to Mario Mandzukic that the Croat smartly chested down and stroked past Bologna keeper Antonio Mirante.

Blaise Matuidi made sure of the points in the 64th minute with his first Serie A goal, the France international crashing a clearance back past Mirante on the half volley.

The crisis enveloping another Italian giant deepened as Milan collapsed, 3-0, at Verona, for an eighth defeat of the season thanks to a powerful header from Antonio Caracciolo and two smart finishes from Moise Kean and Daniel Bessa.

Milan's expensive squad has failed to get going in Serie A, and are languishing in seventh on just 24 points, 18 behind Napoli and 14 adrift of fourth and the final Champions League place.

Roma holds fourth and is just four points behind leader Napoli after a dramatic 1-0 win over Cagliari Saturday, decided in the 94th-minute by Federico Fazio, whose goal had to be confirmed by the video assistant referee after Cagliari's protested they had seen a handball.

Lazio is fifth, five behind Roma, but has played two fewer games and can close the gap in its Sunday evening game at Atalanta.

Juve has kept four straight clean sheets in the league since losing at Sampdoria last month and never looked in trouble at Bologna, despite troubled talent Paulo Dybala being left out.

Argentine Dybala was benched again by Allegri amid rumours of personal problems that have affected his form and he had something to prove when he was brought with 15 minutes left, Juve three goals up after Blaise Matuidi had made it three with his first Serie A goal in the 64th minute.

Dybala forced a smart save from Mirante but looked a shadow of the player that helped fire Juve to the Champions League final last season.

Crotone moved out of the bottom three with a 1-0 win over Chievo gained thanks to Ante Budimir's 33rd-minute tap-in, which moves it up to 16th on 15 points.

It is two behind 15th-placed Sassuolo, who snatched a last gasp 1-0 win at Sampdoria through Alessandro Matri, who made up for Matteo Politano's 82nd-minute penalty miss for the away side.

Ninth-placed Fiorentina are four points behind Samp after their goalless draw with fourth-from-bottom Genoa, which is just a point above the drop zone. — AFP