Andrea Belotti’s goals were his first in Serie A since May last year (Alberto PIZZOLI)
Juventus got their Serie A season off to a perfect start with Sunday’s 3-0 stroll at Udinese which suggested they will be in the title mix, while Lecce struck twice late to beat last year’s runners-up Lazio 2-1.
Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve did all the damage in the first half with an early strike from Federico Chiesa, Dusan Vlahovic’s penalty and a header from Adrien Rabiot just before the break.
The away side then sat on their lead and comfortably held out for the win, and the return to form of injury-prone Chiesa will give Juve a boost as they try to bounce back from last season’s scandals.
“I wanted to do the knee slide as it had been a long time since I’d last done one,” joked Chiesa, who has suffered a series of knee problems, about his celebration after drilling home his second-minute opener.
“Like the manager said our aim is to get back into the Champions League, after that we’ll see.”
Points deductions over transfer irregularities led to Juve finishing seventh last term and then a ban from European football by governing body UEFA.
Without continental competition and with a fit squad Juve have been tipped to challenge for the Scudetto, and on Sunday’s evidence they will be a tough team to beat as they try to move towards a more aggressive, attacking style of play.
“We played very well today, especially in the first half. That’s how we need to play, a modern style of football,” added Chiesa.
“We have to go out and get after teams, we can’t just sit back and play on the counter.”
With 84 minutes gone at Lecce, Ciro Immobile’s 197th Lazio goal seemed to be the decisive strike.
But after the Italy forward had a shot tipped onto the post, Lecce new boy Pontus Almqvist levelled with a superb left-footed finish from the edge of the penalty area.
And seconds later Federico Di Francesco sent the 30,000 home fans wild with joy when he reacted quickest to lash in a low drive which left Ivan Provedel with no chance.
“We were unacceptably bad in the second half,” said a visibly angry Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri.
“We had chances to win the game but it wouldn’t have been deserved as there was only one team on the pitch.”
– Goal droughts ended –
Earlier, Andrea Belotti and Charles De Ketelaere both ended long scoring droughts as Roma were held 2-2 by Salernitana and Atalanta ran out 2-0 winners at Sassuolo.
Italy forward Belotti scored his first Serie A goals for Roma, breaking a league duck which stretched back to May last year when he opened the scoring in the 17th minute at a packed Stadio Olimpico.
And after Antonio Candreva put the away side in the lead with two beautiful strikes either side of half-time, Belotti then powerfully headed Roma level from Leandro Paredes’ corner with eight minutes remaining.
Roma are looking for a new striker as Tammy Abraham will be out until January but Belotti underlined his desire to battle whoever is brought in as competition.
“All I know is that when I’m on the pitch I need to help my team to win. Regardless of who arrives, I’ll be ready to play,” Belotti told DAZN.
De Ketelaere failed to score a single goal for AC Milan last season after signing for 35 million euros from Club Brugge.
But the Belgium international got off to the perfect start as an Atalanta loanee, heading in the opening goal in the 83rd minute before Nadir Zortea lashed in the dominant away team’s second in stoppage time.
“I always want to play as well as possible, and this year is the same as any other. I like our style of play and that’s one of the reasons why I came here,” said the 22-year-old.
Sassuolo were without star winger Domenico Berardi whose hoped move to Juve fell through in the week.
CEO Giovanni Carnevali said before kick-off that Berardi will not be leaving for Juve as Sassuolo would not have time between now and the end of the transfer window to find a replacement.