Paulo Dybala scored a brace as Juventus went top of Serie A with a routine 2-0 home win against Udinese on Sunday.
With leaders Napoli in action later in the day against Inter, Massimiliano Allegri’s men only needed a draw to claim top spot, even if only temporarily.
Dybala’s double secured an 11th straight Serie A win as Juve seek a seventh consecutive title, with the champions now in ominous form, having kept eight successive clean sheets in the league.
Juve’s latest victory was rarely in doubt at the Allianz Stadium after Dybala gave the Bianconeri the lead with his eighth free-kick goal for the club, a superb curling effort that gave Albano Bizzarri no chance.
Bizzarri denied Gonzalo Higuain from the penalty spot after Dybala was fouled, but the strikers combined to great effect in the 49th minute for Juve’s second to wrap up the points.
The pressure is now on Napoli in a lively two-horse title race, Maurizio Sarri’s side having stumbled to a 4-2 home loss against Roma last time out to open the door for Juve.
That’s free-kick goals by @PauDybala_JR with Juventus.
No @SerieA_TIM player has scored more since the 2015/16 season. pic.twitter.com/bUeEvHUNBn
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 11, 2018
Wojciech Szczesny tipped away Ali Adnan’s free-kick in the third minute as Udinese started on top despite the visitors having lost their three previous Serie A matches.
At the other end Mattia De Sciglio’s low cross was just too pacy for Stefano Sturaro to turn home at the back post, but Juventus took the lead in the 20th minute.
Dybala hit a double at home against Udinese last season and, after Gabriele Angella was booked for bringing down Higuain on the edge of the box, he opened the scoring.
The Argentina international converted Juve’s 19th set-piece goal of the season, bending a delightful free-kick out of the reach of Bizzarri.
Angella was at fault again as Dybala proved too sharp in the penalty area, referee Piero Giacomelli pointing to the spot yet sparing the centre-back a second yellow.
5 – Gonzalo #Higuain missed 5 of 17 penalties he taken in Serie A, less only than Domenico Berardi (6) in the top italian league since 2013/14. Inaccurate. #JuveUdinese
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) March 11, 2018
Higuain stepped up but Bizzarri dived low to his right to keep out the striker’s effort, Giorgio Chiellini then narrowly heading over Dybala’s corner shortly before the break.
Dybala added Juve’s second three minutes after the restart, Higuain somewhat making amends with superb hold-up play to lay the ball off to his compatriot for a simple finish.
Sami Khedira scored his first league hat-trick in the reverse fixture’s 6-2 Juve win but the midfielder blazed over before substitute Blaise Matuidi arrived too late to turn in Higuain’s low centre.
Dybala could have had a hat-trick with 12 minutes to go, but the forward was denied by Bizzarri’s fine save at his near post after Douglas Costa opened Udinese up, he then hit the side-netting after a one-two with Mario Mandzukic.
Udinese coach Massimo Oddo – who played under Allegri in AC Milan’s 2010-11 Serie A title triumph – had no response against his old boss, Juve maintaining their perfect 2018 league record with ease.