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Vlahovic ends goal drought to fire Juve second

Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic challenges Lecce's Lameck Banda (right). Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Dusan Vlahovic shot Juventus into second place in Serie A on Wednesday with his first Serie A goal in nearly three months which earned his team a 2-1 win over struggling Lecce.

Serbia striker Vlahovic lashed in what turned out to the winning goal five minutes before half-time at a sparsely-populated Allianz Stadium in Turin. 

The ex-Fiorentina attacker’s ninth league goal of the season, and his first since early February, came after Assan Ceesay’s 37th-minute penalty for the away side had levelled Leandro Paredes’s early free-kick.

“He scored a great goal and he improved as the game went on,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. 

“He had never experienced this sort of thing before, as at Fiorentina everything always went well, but every player has a period like this in their careers. 

“He just needed to get through it.”

Juve are two points ahead of Lazio, who host Sassuolo later on Wednesday knowing anything but a win will hand Napoli their first league title since 1990 before the runaway leaders head to Udinese on Thursday.

But even if Lazio do win at the Stadio Olimpico, Napoli would need only one more point from their final six matches to claim a historic Scudetto.

Allegri’s side broke a four-match winless run but their chances of making the Champions League hinge on a new ruling over their 15-point deduction for illicit transfer activity which was revoked on appeal last month.

And they lost defender Mattia De Sciglio to a torn cruciate ligament in his right knee, the Italy defender now set for a long spell on the sidelines after being stretchered off in the first half.

Defeat leaves Lecce four points above the relegation zone, although their fight for survival was helped by 18th-paced Spezia falling 3-2 at Atalanta, who move into the Champions League spots.

Atalanta are one of six teams battling for the three remaining places in the top four, with AC Milan, Inter Milan and Roma in action later on Wednesday.

Boulaye Dia’s hat-trick was not enough for Salernitana as Fiorentina levelled each one of the Senegal forward’s strikes to claim an exciting 3-3 draw.

Dia, who delayed Napoli’s title party on Sunday, took his league tally for the season to 16 with his treble at the Stadio Arechi.

That’s three more than any Salernitana player has ever scored in Italy’s top-flight, with Marco Di Vaio netting 13 in 1998-99, and it helped Paulo Sousa’s side to both extend their unbeaten run to 10 matches and move eight clear of the drop zone.

Meanwhile Sampdoria slipped closer to Serie B after a 2-0 home defeat to Torino which ended with on-pitch chaos after former Pietro Pellegri netted the away side’s second in stoppage time.

Pellegri come through the youth system at Samp’s local rivals Genoa and he goaded home supporters after scoring, sparking a livid reaction from stands and players.

Samp are 11 points from safety with five games to play and have serious financial problems which leave the 1991 Italian champions at risk of bankruptcy.

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