Serie A: Higuain, Pjanic lead Juventus to convincing win over Sassuolo
ROME (AP) — Juventus' two prized acquisitions were on full display in a convincing 3–1 win over Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday.
Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in the opening 10 minutes and Miralem Pjanic added another before the break as the Bianconeri warmed up for a Champions League it has designs on winning.
"Everyone says Juve will win everything—the league, Cup and the Champions League. But that hurts us, because we lose perspective," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "We've got to play the matches and win them on the pitch."
Higuain and Pjanic were each making their first starts for Juventus after transferring from rivals Napoli and Roma, respectively.
Higuain's move broke the Italian transfer fee record at 90 million euros ($100 million) after scoring 36 times last season to break a 66-year-old Serie A mark for goals scored in a single season.
Pjanic, the crafty Bosnia playmaker, arrived for a more modest 32 million euros ($36 million).
Higuain's new partnership with fellow Argentina forward Paulo Dybala didn't take long to function. Five minutes in, Dybala provided the through ball for Higuain to finish off a counterattack with an angled shot inside the far post.
Five minutes later, Higuain produced an acrobatic effort to redirect in a headed pass from Sami Khedira.
"The partnership with Dybala is improving. But I just got here. We've got time," Higuain said. "I'm really happy to have come here."
Pjanic's first goal of the season came following a rebound of his own shot off the crossbar.
It wasn't all perfect, though.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon came up empty handed when he leaped to grab a corner, allowing Sassuolo's Luca Antei to score when the ball bounced off his feet.
It marked the second time Juventus has conceded a goal from a corner this season, after conceding two all of last season.
Still, Juventus has a full nine points from the opening three rounds as it aims to become the first club to win Serie A for six consecutive years.
Napoli, last season's runner-up, is two points behind in second place after a 3–0 win at Palermo.
On Wednesday, Juventus hosts Sevilla in the Champions League aiming to improve on its runner-up finish from 2015.
Compared to two years ago, Allegri has a much deeper squad to choose from. Among those who started on the bench were standouts such as Mario Mandzukic, Dani Alves, Patrice Evra, Juan Cuadrado, Hernanes, and Andrea Barzagli.
Sassuolo was the revelation of Serie A last season, finishing sixth, but has won just one of its opening three matches in this campaign. The club from near Modena was missing its star forward, Domenico Berardi, who was injured.
Napoli is doing just fine without Higuain.
Jose Callejon scored twice and Marek Hamsik opened the scoring for the Partenopei in a 3-0 win at Palermo.
After opening with a disappointing 2-2 draw at promoted Pescara, Napoli followed that up with a 4-2 win over AC Milan and has now extended its unbeaten start to three matches.
Hamsik put Napoli ahead early in the second half with a shot from the center of the area that went in off the crossbar and Callejon doubled the lead three minutes later by crouching down for a header after being left unmarked inside the box.
Callejon added another with a shot from the edge of the area.
Often obscured during Higuain's tenure at Napoli, the former Real Madrid striker Callejon has scored four goals in two matches.
Napoli returns to the Champions League at Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday.
Palermo coach Roberto De Zerbi made a disappointing debut after Davide Ballardini's resignation.