Juventus moved one point behind league leaders Napoli with a 3-1 win against Verona at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on Saturday night in what was their first Serie A win at Hellas Verona since 2001.
Turin star Paulo Dybala was reinstalled in place of Juan Cuardrado after being dropped to the bench for the past three matches. Stephan Lichsteiner started at right-back in place of Andrea Barzagli who filled in against Roma, whilst Rodrigo Bentancur started in midfield after Miralem Pjanic was ruled out with a training injury.
Teenager Moise Kean started up front against his parent club, while Martin Caceres started at left-back against the club he left last year.
Mehdi Benatia almost put the Old Lady in front within the opening two minutes but his header looped a foot too high over the crossbar.
Juventus' early pressure paid off when they gained the lead after just six minutes with a devastating counter attack. Sami Khedira fed Gonzalo Higuain but his effort was fantastically fingertipped onto the post by Verona goalkeeper Nicolas - only for Blaise Matuidi to scuff home the rebound for his second goal in three Serie A games.
Higuain then had the whole stadium fooled in the 19th minute when he delightfully curled his free-kick over the wall and into the lower left hand corner of the side netting. The crowd's cheers even had the Argentinian thinking his eyes had deceived him for a moment.
The former Napoli striker really should have made it 2-0 when Alex Sandro laid the ball back to the edge of the six yard box but his shot was straight at Nicolas.
Massimiliano Allegri made a bold move at half-time despite being in the lead, sending on attacking midfielder Federico Bernadeschi for defensive midfielder Bentancur.
HT: Overall a good first 45 mins, dominated majority of the game and should of had 1-2 more at least, pipita has been great, and dybala needs to get more involved! Second 45 mins are huge, 2 more goals then we can relax! FORZA JUVENTUS— Juventus World 💜 (@world_juventus) December 30, 2017
Juventus hadn't conceded in eight matches before this one, but Verona threw a spanner in the works in the 59th minute with their first shot on target of the match. Caceres had an audacious shot from distance, and despite slipping, watched his effort nestle past the despairing Wojciech Szczesny. And boy did he celebrate...
Verona were only level for 13 minutes, as Lichsteiner did wonderfully well to marauder down the right-hand side and bravely pull the ball back to Dybala who swept home to mark his return with a goal. The Swiss full-back was looking a bit worse for wear after a collision with Caceres when making the assist, and was immediately replaced by Barzagli as a precaution.
Dybala hadn't scored since the 3-2 defeat to Sampdoria in November, but he had his second of the game six minutes later - both goals coming from his less favoured right foot. A beautiful mazy run that his Argentinian compatriot Messi would be proud of led to him swivelling the ball onto his right side and placing the ball across Nicolas.
You could see the confidence that the Bianconeri no. 10 had regained after sending a clear message to Allegri on how important he is to this Juventus attack. He almost claimed the match ball in the 80th minute with a fantastic free-kick from distance, but the Verona goalkeeper was equal to it.
The win means Juventus finish off 2017 six points clear of third placed and the fast-falling Inter, and just one point behind Serie A leaders Napoli.