BELOTTI IM­PRESSES AGAIN

Hat-trick against Palermo has Torino drool­ing as Ju­ven­tus are held

New Straits Times - - Sport -

AN­DREA Belotti con­tin­ued his re­mark­able sea­son by scor­ing an eight-minute hat-trick in Torino’s 3-1 win over Palermo on Sun­day while ti­tle­hold­ers Ju­ven­tus drew 1-1 at Udi­nese to go eight points clear at the top.

Leonardo Bonucci headed in a se­cond-half equaliser to give Juve their first Serie A draw of the sea­son which left them with 67 points from 27 games.

Se­cond-placed AS Roma have 59 af­ter Satur­day’s 2-1 home de­feat to third-placed Napoli, who are a fur­ther two points be­hind.

“Belotti gave a sen­sa­tional per­for­mance, fight­ing hard as usual, pro­vid­ing as­sists and scor­ing three goals,” Torino coach Sin­isa Mi­ha­jlovic told re­porters.

“He’s the top­scorer and the best for­ward in Serie A, but he shouldn’t be sat­is­fied with that be­cause he still has room for im­prove­ment.”

Belotti’s per­for­mance prompted Mi­ha­jlovic to joke that the buy­out clause in 23-year-old’s con­tract, which runs un­til June 2021, should be in­creased from its cur­rent value of €100 mil­lion (RM470 mil­lion).

“It’s clear that to­day he’s worth more than €100 mil­lion and I will speak to the pres­i­dent about re­view­ing that clause,” he said.

Torino pres­i­dent Ur­bano Cairo added: “I don’t think we can in­crease the amount now be­cause I’ve only just signed the con­tract. But if I was go­ing to put a price on it to­day, it would be €150 mil­lion.”

“I hope no­body comes with the money be­cause I’d like to have him here with us,” he added.

Palermo, who re­mained seven points adrift of safety in the rel­e­ga­tion zone, went ahead on the half hour when An­drea Ris­poli charged for­ward and beat Joe Hart from 20 me­tres.

The Si­cil­ians, play­ing their first match since flam­boy­ant pres­i­dent Mau­r­izio Zam­par­ini re­signed last week, stayed in front un­til Belotti, who also scored twice in the 2-2 draw at Fiorentina last Mon­day, sprang into ac­tion late in the game.

Belotti, who spent two sea­sons at Palermo, headed the equaliser in the 74th minute, then struck again two min­utes later when he met Adem Lja­jic’s free-kick with a su­perb vol­ley.

Serie A’s lead­ing scorer com­pleted his hat-trick and took his sea­son’s tally to 22 with an­other header in the 81st minute af­ter Palermo goal­keeper Josip Posavec again failed to deal with a cross.

Udi­nese stunned Ju­ven­tus eight min­utes be­fore half­time when Du­van Za­p­ata burst down the left, held off a chal­lenge from Bonucci and scored with an an­gled shot that squirmed un­der Gian­luigi Buf­fon.

Bonucci lev­elled on the hour and Juve ap­peared happy with that, even though the re­sult ended a run of 10 suc­ces­sive wins in all com­pe­ti­tions.

“We’ve gained an­other point on Roma,” said Ju­ven­tus coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri. “We didn’t play a great match but when you don’t win, it’s im­por­tant not to lose.”

Lazio moved into fourth place with 53 points af­ter two goals from Ciro Im­mo­bile gave them a 2-0 win at Bologna.

Ivan Perisic scored twice to lead sixth-placed In­ter Mi­lan to a 5-1 win at Cagliari while Genoa won 2-0 at Em­poli with late goals from Olivier Ntcham and Os­car Hil­je­mark.

Cro­tone’s match at home to Sas­suolo ended in a goal­less stale­mate as did fifth-placed Ata­lanta’s meet­ing with Fiorentina.

EPA PIC

Torino's An­drea Belotti (right) scores against Palermo on Sun­day.

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