MILAN (AFP) – Fernando Torres Llorente broke his league duck as Juventus pulled three points clear of Roma at the top of Italy’s Serie A following a 2-0 win over Palermo on Sunday.
Elswhere, Gonzalo Higuain ended his league drought for Napoli with a hat-trick, including a late penalty, in an entertaining 6-2 win over Verona in which Marek Hamsik also scored a brace to open his Napoli account this season.
Jose Callejon grabbed Napoli’s other goal to claim his seventh of the campaign and go top of the scorers’ charts ahead of Keisuke Honda (Milan) and Carlos Tevez (Juventus).
Napoli’s fourth win of the campaign moved Rafael Benitez’s men up to seventh, eight points adrift of Juventus and only two points off third-placed Udinese, 2-0 winners earlier over Atalanta.
Higuain had been goalless in seven previous league outings and his frustration grew earlier this week when Napoli suffered a 2-0 Europa League defeat to Young Boys in Berne.
Benitez on Friday compared Higuain to a “lion in a cage” and joked after the match: “We let Higuain out of the cage tonight, so we can put him away again until Wednesday.”
Ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Atalanta, Benitez believes Napoli’s shaky start to the season is now firmly behind them.
“I think this game sent an important signal of what the team can do,” added Benitez.
Lazio’s resurgence continued with a precious 2-1 win at home to Torino with Miroslav Klose, making a rare appearance for Stefano Pioli’s side, claiming a 60th minute winner for the hosts that moved the Biancocelesti up to fifth.
“I’ve always maintained that Klose is an added bonus for us whether he plays or is simply in the dressing room boosting the rest of the team,” said Pioli.
“I am happy for him that he scored.”
A 32nd minute penalty from Mauro Icardi proved enough for Inter in a precious 1-0 win away to 10-man Cesena that will ease the pressure on under-fire coach Walter Mazzarri as the Nerazzurri moved up to seventh.
Milan, meanwhile, spurned the chance to move up to third following a 1-1 draw with Fiorentina at the San Siro where a superb Josip Ilicic strike levelled Nigel De Jong’s 25th minute header just after the hour.
Having missed out on Europe this season, new Rossoneri coach Filippo Inzaghi is under pressure to claim a third-place finish but insisted: “We can’t go about talking about (reaching) third place.
“We are still growing as a squad and have to take things slowly, game by game.
“You can’t build a title-winning team in two months. We’re in front of Inter, Napoli and Fiorentina, which has probably surprised a few people.”
Earlier, Chilean international Arturo Vidal broke the deadlock for Juve on 32 minutes when he lashed Tevez’s smart layoff past Stefano Sorrentino and inside the ‘keeper’s far post.
Llorente got his head to a corner from the right on 64 minutes to secure Juve’ seventh win of the campaign following their only slip-up in last week’s 1-1 draw at Sassuolo.
Allegri had replaced Andrea Pirlo with Paul Pogba midway through the second half, the second week in succession the Italy international has failed to finish 90 minutes.