MILAN: Adrien Rabiot made sure Juventus continued their charge towards European football with a decisive brace in his team’s hard-fought 4-2 Serie A win over struggling Sampdoria. France midfielder Rabiot put Juve two ahead with a first-half header and then smashed them back in front in the 64th minute after Samp had stunned the home crowd by levelling before the break with two rapid-fire goals from Tommaso Augello and Filip Djuricic.
Youngster Matias Soule nodded home in stoppage time to make the scoreline more flattering against Samp who are bottom and 12 points from safety. Rabiot almost left Juve in the summer but has become a key figure in Massimiliano Allegri’s team, his double taking his league tally to seven and moving the Turin giants to within four points of the European places.
“We need to concentrate more for the whole match and not get distracted just because we scored two goals and were more comfortable,” said Rabiot to DAZN. “We needed to win to prepare well for Freiburg. I’m happy to be scoring so many goals here, let’s hope I can get some more between now and the end of the season.” Juventus, in seventh on 38 points, are contesting a 15-point penalty for illicit transfer activity and as it stands they would be second should their appeal be successful.
They would still be a whopping 15 points behind champions-elect Napoli but given the inconsistent form of Serie A’s other top clubs they would be a strong bet to reach next season’s Champions League. Missing a host of big names, including Paul Pogba who suffered yet another injury during Sunday morning’s training session, Juve looked set for a cruise against a similarly depleted Samp when headers from Bremer and Rabiot had them two in front midway through the opening period.
But two goals within just over a minute stunned the home fans, Augello crashing in Samp’s first on the rebound in the 31st minute before Djuricic swept in the leveller from Alessandro Zanoli’s low pass. Rabiot then stepped in with the key goal, which Samp thought came after the 27-year-old handled to control the ball, an impression which post-match images appeared to confirm. Dusan Vlahovic thwacked a penalty off the post and then had a header tipped onto the woodwork, from which Soule added the fourth.
Roma’s Sassuolo slip
Roma could have moved level on points with second-placed Inter Milan, who lost at struggling Spezia on Friday, but were stunned 4-3 by Sassuolo thanks to an Armand Lauriente double, Domenico Berardi’s penalty and Andrea Pinamonti’s neat finish with 15 minutes remaining.
Roma were without the suspended coach Jose Mourinho and had to play the entire second half a man down after Marash Kumbulla was sent off for kicking Berardi and conceding the spot-kick from which the Italy international gave Sassuolo a 3-1 half-time lead. Mourinho’s team, who netted through Nicola Zalewski, substitute Paulo Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum, are now fifth, level on 47 points with fourth-placed AC Milan but below the champions by virtue of having played a game more.
There is little chance of Roma moving back into the top four as Milan host Salernitana on Monday night. Mourinho was absent after his two-match ban for being sent off during Roma’s defeat at Cremonese earlier this month was confirmed. Roma are livid at the decision as Mourinho’s red card came following a blazing row with fourth official Marco Serra, who, the capital club claim, insulted their Portuguese coach.
Home fans waved hankies in a Spanish-style protest before kick-off while the club decided on a media blackout for both Sunday’s match and next weekend’s Rome derby, which now takes on extra importance with Lazio sitting two points ahead of their local rivals in third. Earlier Verona’s survival bid stalled after a 1-1 draw with Monza left them five points from 17th-placed Spezia and safety. Fiorentina beat bottom team Cremonese 2-0 to win their fifth straight match in all competitions, while Torino are a point behind Juve after a 2-0 win at Lecce. – AFP