Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain helped Juventus move seven points clear at the top of Serie A with a resounding 4-0 win over 10-man Lecce at the Allianz Stadium.

Fabio Lucioni's first-half dismissal left lowly Lecce, who had started brightly, facing a daunting task yet it needed a moment of brilliance from Dybala to open the scoring after 53 minutes.

Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were guilty of woeful misses in the opening period but the former lashed home his 23rd Serie A goal of the campaign from the penalty spot before excellently setting up Higuain.

Matthijs de Ligt added a fourth that was harsh on Lecce as Maurizio Sarri's men stretched their lead on Lazio, beaten 3-2 by Atalanta last time out, albeit their rivals have a game in hand.

Andrea Rispoli flashed wide on the half-volley as Juve were carved open after four minutes.

Gabriel parried Adrien Rabiot's long-range shot and Ronaldo drilled wide of the right post as Juventus came to life and soon found themselves a man up.

Rodrigo Bentancur caught Lucioni in possession 40 yards from goal and the centre-back chopped down his opponent to earn the straight red.

Ronaldo incredibly put a close-range header from Dybala's corner over the top when unmarked then teed up Bernardeschi, who missed an even bigger sitter when blazing high from inside the six-yard box.

Gabriel was in action again to keep out Leonardo Bonucci's header just after the restart but was powerless to stop Dybala opening the scoring.

Evgen Shakhov's careless pass was picked up by Ronaldo, who teed up the Argentina forward to curl a sumptuous left-foot effort into the top-right corner from the edge of the area. 

It was game over just after the hour when Ronaldo lashed home the penalty he won after being tripped by Luca Rossettini.

The Portugal superstar would have had another had Gabriel not kept out his point-blank header but his ingenious backheel after a fine run deflected into the path of Higuain, who drilled home the third.

De Ligt then nodded in Douglas Costa's corner as Juve ultimately ran out comfortable winners.

Cristiano Ronaldo was on target as Juventus marked their return to Serie A action with a 2-0 win over Bologna at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on Monday.

Maurizio Sarri's side shrugged off the disappointment of their Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli last week, Ronaldo setting them on their way from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute in their first top-flight game since March 8.

Dybala added a superb second before half-time, whipping into the top corner from outside the penalty area, while Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi came close to adding further goals after the interval before Danilo was sent off in stoppage time.

The result moves the reigning champions four points clear of Lazio at the Serie A summit, although Simone Inzaghi's side will have the chance to cut the gap back to one point when they travel to Atalanta on Wednesday.

Juve started on the front foot, with Ronaldo forcing Lukasz Skorupski into a smart stop inside the opening 10 minutes.

The forward got the better of the Bologna goalkeeper midway through the opening period, though, slotting down the middle from the penalty spot after a VAR review deemed that Stefano Denswil pulled Matthijs de Ligt's shirt from a corner.

The visitors doubled their advantage in sumptuous style nine minutes before the break, Dybala sweeping into the top corner from 20 yards after a superb backheeled flick by Bernardeschi.

Ronaldo prodded wide shortly after the restart when clean through, while Bernardeschi crashed a 20-yard effort against the post moments later.

Juve were content to play out the second half at a pedestrian pace, though a Ronaldo effort fizzed past the post.

Ronaldo then saw a late strike ruled out for offside, while substitute Danilo received his marching orders in stoppage time after picking up a second booking for a foul on Musa Juwara.

 

What does it mean? Bianconeri back to their best

Juve had failed to score in both of their Coppa Italia matches since returning to action following the lengthy absence caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

They were back to their ruthless best against Sinisa Mihajlovic's side, however, putting the game to bed by half-time thanks to Ronaldo and a sublime strike from Dybala.

Dybala too hot to handle

The Argentina international was a handful for the Bologna defence throughout, bamboozling them with incisive movement and an array of smart touches. His eighth league goal of the season was one to savour.

Bologna rue Denswil's lapse

The hosts' hard work keeping Juve at bay was undone by a moment of madness from Denswil. His tug on De Ligt's shirt was unnecessary and proved costly when Ronaldo put away the penalty.

What's next?

Sarri's side host struggling Lecce on Friday, while Bologna travel to Sampdoria on Sunday.

Maurizio Sarri believes Cristiano Ronaldo and his other Juventus stars are lacking sharpness after their Coppa Italia final loss to Napoli on Wednesday.

Napoli recorded a 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Juve after a goalless draw in the decider in Rome.

In two games since returning to action following the coronavirus-enforced break, Juve have been held goalless.

Sarri said Ronaldo and his other attackers are lacking the level of fitness required after not playing competitive matches for more than three months.

"He's in the same shape as the others, like Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa, he is lacking the sharpness to do what works best for him," he told RAI.

"I didn't say much to the players after the game. I was angry and disappointed just like them, so at these moments it's best to stay silent. We'll talk better tomorrow morning."

Paulo Dybala and Danilo missed penalties for Juventus, who are a point clear atop Serie A ahead of resuming their league campaign against Bologna on Monday.

Sarri lamented his side's defeat and believes they are lacking some "brilliance", with Juve failing to score in back-to-back games for the first time since October 2015.

"There is disappointment for the boys, for the club, for the fans, but this is a particular moment, both for the physical condition and for some important absence," he said.

"We made different choices than usual, pressing less high to have a better grip at a distance and we played the game with good levels of application.

"Right now, however, we lack brilliance to make the amount of game produced dangerous and without that brilliance it becomes more difficult to beat the man, which our players are usually used to doing easily, and finding other solutions.

"Two 0-0s are an unprecedented fact and I think it is characteristic of this period."

Juventus are confident of renewing Paulo Dybala's contract, according to chief football officer Fabio Paratici.

Dybala is contracted to the Serie A champions until June 2022 and said in an interview with CNN this week he was waiting for the club to initiate talks.

The Argentina international has struggled for form since Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Juve, scoring 23 goals in all competitions since the start of 2018-19, fewer than he managed in 2017-18 alone.

Maurizio Sarri has acknowledged it is difficult for Dybala, who was linked with a move to Manchester United in the previous close season and has expressed an interest in playing for Barcelona, and Ronaldo to "coexist" in the same team.

However, Paratici is optimistic about Dybala's long-term future in Turin.

Ahead of the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan on Friday, Paratici told Rai Sport: "We are not worried, as we started discussing the situation with Dybala and his entourage, so we are absolutely optimistic and confident.

"Everyone who goes to negotiate a contract wants an improvement, so that's entirely logical."

Asked about Juve's reported interest in Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo, he added: "This is not the time to talk about the transfer market, it's already been done when there was no football being played, but we want to fully enjoy this moment when Italian football returns."

Juve's clash with Milan is their first game in over three months, after football was suspended across most of the globe in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Juventus will be without Giorgio Chiellini, Aaron Ramsey and Gonzalo Higuain for Friday's Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Milan.

Defender Merih Demiral will also be missing from head coach Maurizio Sarri's 23-man squad.

Paulo Dybala, one of three Juve players to test positive for coronavirus in March, has been included in the group.

Higuain sustained a thigh muscle problem while training last week and was not expected to face Milan.

Demiral, Ramsey and Chiellini – the latter of whom only returned from nearly six months out with a knee injury in February – are reported to be short of full fitness.

Juve's meeting with Milan is their first match since the Italian football season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The three first-team players to have tested positive for COVID-19 – Dybala, Blaise Matuidi and Daniele Rugani – are all in the squad.

Dybala had been self-isolating since March and only returned a negative test for the virus on May 6, at which point he was cleared for a return to training.

The first leg at San Siro in February finished 1-1, with a late penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo cancelling out Ante Rebic's opener.

The final against either Inter or Napoli will be next Wednesday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

The Serie A leaders resume their bid for a ninth league title in a row away to Bologna on June 22.

Getting Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala to "coexist" in the same team is difficult, Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri has acknowledged.

Following the €112million signing of five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo, Dybala saw a significant dip in his form for the Bianconeri in 2018-19.

He went from scoring 26 goals in all competitions in 2017-18 to just 10 the following campaign and was heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the close season.

The Argentina international is yet to rediscover his best form under Sarri, while Ronaldo has scored 21 Serie A goals for the second successive season.

Sarri conceded it is tough to make Juve function efficiently when the duo are in the line-up, though he relishes the challenge.

"Dybala is a phenomenal player. The point is to make him and Cristiano coexist on the field, because it is not easy to make them play together," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

"But when two players with this type of quality are available, the rest of the squad has to adapt, both when attacking and defending.

"There is the risk that the opposition penalty area can seem a little empty, but all this is a very pleasant problem to have."

Miralem Pjanic has also struggled for form, though Barcelona are reported to be interested in his signature.

Sarri feels Pjanic suffers from a lack of self-belief but backed the Bosnia-Herzegovina midfielder to find his feet again.

"I spoke a great deal to Miralem, he is an extraordinary player and cannot afford to have four or five games below his standards, which is what happened lately," said Sarri.

"He agreed with me, and struggled at first to find the strength to react, but he must convince himself that he's a great player.

"He can get one match wrong but has to lift his head up and react. It's been a positive mental journey for him and he can get back on his feet."

With Italian football soon returning in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Juve will play their first match in over three months in a Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Milan on Friday.

Sarri's men sit one point clear of Lazio at the top of Serie A with 12 games remaining and have a 1-0 deficit to overturn in their Champions League last-16 tie against Lyon.

Paulo Dybala admitted it would be "very nice" to play for Barcelona as the star attacker said he was still waiting for a contract renewal at Juventus.

Dybala, 26, was enjoying a fine season before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, having been linked with a move from Turin last year.

The Argentina international is reportedly set to extend his stay at Juve, where he is contracted until 2022.

But Dybala said it would be nice to reunite with international team-mate Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

"The truth is that Barcelona is huge team worldwide and with Messi there even bigger," he told CNN.

"It would be very nice, but Juventus is also an incredible club, very big, full of history, where there are currently great players.

"There's enough quality here to make two teams and the chance to play with [Gianluigi] Buffon and Cristiano Ronaldo, who make the club even bigger."

While a move to Barcelona could be of interest, Dybala has been reported to be close to an extension at Juventus.

But Dybala, who has scored 13 goals and provided seven assists in 34 games this season, said he was still waiting.

"For now there is nothing, really. I have a year and a half left on my contract, which is not much, and I understand that with all this that has happened [coronavirus] it isn't easy for the club, but other players have also renewed, so we are here waiting," he said.

"Obviously I am a player of this club and I am happy to be here. People love me very much and I love the people very much. I have great appreciation for the club and the people who are here, I have a good relationship with my president and surely at some point they will come to chat – or maybe not, I don't know.

"At some point maybe there may be some possible renewal, but it depends on Juventus."

Paulo Dybala has revealed he is still not 100 per cent fit after overcoming coronavirus - but he is relishing the return of Serie A all the same.

The Juventus forward confirmed in March that he and girlfriend Oriana Sabatini had tested positive for COVID-19, by which time football in Italy had been suspended due to the pandemic.

Dybala had to isolate for over a month before Juve announced he had returned two negative tests on May 6, though he is still not yet in peak condition following his illness.

Having gone up against Tottenham's Dele Alli in FIFA 20 as part of a charity event organised by Gamers Without Borders, the Argentina international declared his delight at the upcoming resumption to the 2019-20 campaign.

"I had coronavirus, but I feel much better now," Dybala said during the Instagram Live transmission.

"I am still not quite at 100 per cent, but I'm pretty good. We've started training again and football is coming back, so soon we will be able to do what we love the most.

"I hope we can have fun and entertain.

"I think it will be useful because we will have many consecutive football matches, and people like us who love this wonderful sport will have the opportunity to watch a different game every day."

Argentinian Dybala defeated Alli while playing as Liverpool, even singing the Anfield club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' midway through the online game with the England midfielder.

As for the real action, leaders Juve - who sit one point clear of nearest rivals Lazio - restart their Serie A campaign with a trip to Bologna on June 22.

Before then, Juventus have the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Milan, which takes place in Turin on June 12. The first meeting between the teams finished in a 1-1 draw.

Paulo Dybala hopes to again play with former Juventus team-mate Paul Pogba in the future.

Argentina forward Dybala starred alongside Pogba for a single season before the midfielder departed the Bianconeri to return to Manchester United in 2016.

Pogba has repeatedly been linked with a second move away from Old Trafford in recent seasons, however.

Real Madrid have been hotly tipped to bid for the World Cup winner, yet former club Juve are also said to be in the running.

Dybala would appear keen for such a transfer to materialise, as he highlighted his positive relationship with Pogba as he showed off a collection of matchworn shirts on UEFA.com.

"I couldn't overlook a shirt like this, of course," Dybala said, referring to a United shirt from Juve's 1-0 Champions League win in Manchester in 2018.

"It's from Manchester, from my friend Paul, whom I admire as a person even more than as a football player.

"I had the chance to share great things with him and hopefully I can repeat that someday."

Dybala scored Juve's winner at Old Trafford and added: "To score and to win a game in that way makes it even sweeter, and to be able to swap shirts with your friend is one of the most beautiful things you can do in football."

The possibility of Dybala following Pogba to United was mooted last year as the Bianconeri preferred to build around former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Juve sporting director Fabio Paratici last week told Sky Sport Italia the club wanted Dybala to "stay with us for as long as possible" as they target a contract renewal.

Juventus striker Paulo Dybala has fully recovered from the coronavirus and is no longer required to isolate after a wait of more than six weeks. 

Serie A champions Juve announced the Argentina international had received "a double check" that returned negative results.

In response, Dybala posted a joyous photo on Instagram, writing: "My face says it all, I’m finally cured from Covid-19."

It was an Instagram post from the 26-year-old on March 21 that confirmed he and his girlfriend Oriana Sabatini had tested positive for COVID-19.

But after a long wait, the club's statement on Wednesday read: "Paulo Dybala performed, as per protocol, a double check with diagnostic tests (swabs) for Coronavirus-Covid 19, which came back with negative results.

"The player has, therefore, recovered and will no longer be subjected to the home isolation regime."

As he recovered in early April, Dybala provided an update to say he was feeling "much better".

But the player explained he had suffered tiredness and shortness of breath ahead of his initial test results and that his recovery had included a cough, body aches and feeling cold as he slept.

With Italy's government allowing players to return to club facilities as talks intensify over if and when the 2019-20 season will resume, the former Palermo star this week expressed his determination to play football.

Dybala added he never thought he would miss the game so much and was eager to train outside the confines of his home, which he will now have the opportunity to do.

As part of a thrilling Scudetto race, Juve were a point clear of Lazio when the season was postponed.

Their local rivals Torino also provided a virus-related update on Wednesday, as they revealed one of their players had tested positive after checks were made on their squad.

"The player is currently asymptomatic, was immediately placed in quarantine and will be constantly monitored," the club wrote on their official website.

Juventus star Paulo Dybala said he did not think he would miss football so much amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Serie A has been postponed since March due to the COVID-19, while sport across the world has been brought to a standstill.

Dybala has previously tested positive for coronavirus, the Argentina attacker detailing his own experience with COVID-19.

With Italy's government allowing players to return to club facilities from Monday as talks intensify over when, and if, the 2019-20 season will resume, Dybala expressed his determination to play football.

"To tell you the truth, I never thought I was going to miss playing and practicing that much," Dybala said during an Instagram Live interview.

"I feel like I need to practice, see my team-mates and friends and at least touch the ball because practice at home isn't the same on my own.

"I need to put my boots on and run, score a goal... As I always say, when you are passionate you make everything twice as important.

"It's been too long without practicing. We don't know exactly when we'll be back. It's not like a holiday, when you know you'll be resting for a certain amount to time.

"I know my only job is to relax and keep in good shape, but nothing major as opposed to now.

"It started as being one week, then one more, then one more, so I practice here but it's not the same."

Defending champions Juve were a point clear of Lazio when the season was postponed in March.

Juventus intend to keep Paulo Dybala "for as long as possible" and Gonzalo Higuain for the 2020-21 season, while Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon are set for contract extensions.

With Cristiano Ronaldo now the standout star in the Bianconeri team, fellow forwards Dybala and Higuain have repeatedly been linked with moves away from Turin.

Dybala was a reported target for Manchester United and Tottenham last year, while Higuain had appeared set for a permanent departure at the same stage as he returned from unsuccessful loan spells with Milan and then Chelsea.

The Argentina attackers have netted 21 Juve goals between them in all competitions this season, however, and sporting director Fabio Paratici is keen to see both men stay at the Bianconeri, who led Lazio by a point at the top of the Serie A table when the season was suspended in March.

Discussing potential new deals - including those for out-of-contract veterans Chiellini and Buffon - Paratici told Sky Sport Italia: "Chiellini and Buffon are in the pipeline.

"For Dybala, I think this pause has stopped our communications a little bit. But our will is to make him stay with us for as long as possible."

Dybala's deal runs out in 2022, but the club have been in talks over a new agreement for much of the 2019-20 season.

Meanwhile, Higuain, 32, is out of contract at the end of next season, yet Juventus are not looking to let the ex-Napoli striker depart early.

Paratici added: "Higuain left [Italy] and was very worried in general [about the coronavirus pandemic]. Gonzalo is a very sensitive boy and this thing struck him a lot.

"We are tied to him. He has had an extraordinary season. We hope for him to continue with us for the year that remains in the contract."

Kylian Mbappe has been tipped to join fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid.

Madrid head coach Zidane has made no secret of his admiration for Mbappe.

However, Liverpool are reportedly launching an audacious bid for the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL CONTACT MBAPPE'S DAD

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has spoken to Kylian Mbappe's father about bringing the Paris Saint-Germain star to Anfield, according to Le10 Sport.

Mbappe has been tipped to join LaLiga giants Real Madrid in 2021 as PSG struggle to agree a new contract with the France forward.

Despite strong links to the Santiago Bernabeu, Champions League holders Liverpool are still chasing the 21-year-old.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo does not want to leave Juventus, says Tuttosport. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to PSG, as well as former clubs Madrid and Manchester United.

Paulo Dybala to Inter? The Argentina star was linked to the Nerazzurri at the start of the season but remained at Juventus, where he has starred. However, Calciomercato says Inter are still interested in Dybala.

- The Mirror claims Borussia Dortmund have set their sights on Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old has also been linked to Liverpool and United.

Barcelona and Manchester City are eyeing Benfica defender Ruben Dias, reports Record. The 22-year-old has been offered to Barca as a possible long-term replacement for Samuel Umtiti, the report adds.

- Mundo Deportivo says Juve are pressing to sign in-demand Barca midfielder Arthur, who has been the subject of interest from Inter and Tottenham.

Arsenal have given up on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang re-signing with the Premier League club, according to the Daily Express. Inter are said to be the favourites to sign the Gabon forward.

- Real Madrid's Luka Jovic has emerged as an option for Milan amid doubts over Zlatan Ibrahimovic's future, says Calciomercato.

Juventus winger Douglas Costa named Paulo Dybala as his strongest team-mate ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Brazil international mentioned Dybala above five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo when asked by a fan during an Instagram Live session.

"The strongest team-mate is Paulino [Dybala]," he said.

Costa has played alongside Dybala since first joining Juve on loan from Bayern Munich in 2017.

Ronaldo moved to Turin a year later in a deal worth €112million.

Costa's most pressing concern for now is returning to Italy from Brazil, where he has been spending time during the suspension of the Serie A season.

Italy's top flight has been on hold indefinitely since March due to the coronavirus pandemic but there are plans to allow clubs to resume training from May 4.

On Tuesday, Lega Serie A announced a unanimous agreement from clubs to complete the 2019-20 season, despite reports of opposition from teams including Torino and Sampdoria.

"I hope to return to Italy soon," Costa said. "I can't wait to return, partly because I don't know what to do here anymore."

Juve were a point clear of Lazio at the top of Serie A with 12 games to play when the season was paused.

Could Lionel Messi swap Barcelona for Inter?

Messi has been linked to Inter since ex-president Massimo Moratti said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining the Serie A club was not a "forbidden dream".

The 32-year-old's future at Camp Nou has made headlines throughout the 2019-20 season.

 

TOP STORY – INTER WANT MESSI

Inter are seriously working on trying to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to TNT Sports.

Former Inter president Massimo Moratti said the Nerazzurri luring Messi – contracted until 2021 – to San Siro was not impossible and speculation has intensified since those comments.

TNT Sports says Inter are ready to push through negotiations for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, while boyhood club Newell's Old Boys have also made an offer.

 

ROUND-UP

- AS Diario claims Manchester United and Juventus are both chasing Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez. Napoli and Everton have also been linked to the Colombia international.

Philippe Coutinho is close to returning to the Premier League. Sport reports the former Liverpool star is nearing a loan switch to Chelsea from Barcelona. The Brazilian has spent the 2019-20 season on loan at Bayern Munich.

Milan are interested in signing in-demand Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Calciomercato. The Italian has been linked to the likes of Juve, Inter and United.

- Juve star Paulo Dybala is set to sign a new contract with the Serie A champions, says Calciomercato. Meanwhile, the same outlet reports that Juve are interested in Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante.

- Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is chasing Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, says AS Diario. The Frenchman wants to sign the 17-year-old if Madrid are unable to lure Paul Pogba from United.

- Mundo Deportivo reports Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham are among the clubs battling for Achraf Hakimi. The Moroccan full-back has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund from Madrid. Juve, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain are also reportedly interested.

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