Juventus beats Bologna 3-1 to be on verge of Serie A crown
MILAN (AP) — Juventus is on the verge of a record-extending seventh successive Serie A title after coming from behind to beat Bologna 3-1 on Saturday, thanks to an inspirational performance from substitute Douglas Costa.
Simone Verdi’s penalty gave Bologna a surprise halftime lead and Juventus turned the match around with Douglas Costa shredding the defense amid an own goal from Sebastian De Maio and strikes from Sami Khedira and Paulo Dybala.
Juventus moved seven points clear of second-placed Napoli and, with two rounds remaining, can secure the title on Sunday if Maurizio Sarri’s side loses at home to Torino.
“The title is not yet wrapped up, but we’ve taken a huge step towards it,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
It could win two trophies in the space of a few days as it faces AC Milan in the Italian Cup final on Wednesday.
Juventus started brightly but Bologna took the lead in the 30th minute after Lorenzo Crisetig pounced on a poor pass from Gianluigi Buffon and was pushed over by Daniele Rugani for a penalty.
Despite a long wait following technical problems in communicating with the video assistant referee, Verdi kept his calm to roll in the spot kick down the middle.
Allegri sent on Douglas Costa for the start of the second half and he had an immediate impact with a cross from the left which Juan Cuadrado just failed to connect with at the far post.
Juventus leveled five minutes into the second half when De Maio turned Cuadrado’s cross into his own net.
The hosts should have been in front moments later but Mirante finger-tipped Douglas Costa’s effort away, and Cuadrado was again millimeters away from connecting with the ball, with the goal gaping.
Bologna almost restored its lead moments later but Buffon managed to push Emil Krafth’s shot onto his left post.
Juventus took the lead shortly after the hour as Mirante misjudged Douglas Costa’s cross, allowing Khedira to tap in at the back post.
Douglas Costa was tearing Bologna apart and he set up Juve’s third in the 69th, setting up Dybala to end his goal drought. It was the Argentine’s first goal since his hat trick against Benevento a month ago.
“Douglas Costa is one of those players who can make the difference, who can completely change the match,” Allegri said. “His daughter was born last night, he’s not had much rest, so I started him on the bench to make the most of him during the match.”
AC Milan retained its European ambitions and relegated Hellas Verona in a 4-1 win.
Hakan Calhanoglu, Patrick Cutrone and Ignazio Abate gave Milan a commanding lead. Fabio Borini netted Milan’s fourth, after Lee Seung-woo bagged a late consolation for Verona.
The win moved Milan up to sixth, the final qualifying place for the Europa League.
With two matches left, Verona cannot achieve safety and joined bottom side Benevento in going straight back down to Serie B.
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