Milan : Juventus took a major step toward a seventh straight Serie A title on Sunday as it beat Sampdoria 3-0 after Napoli was held to a 0-0 draw at AC Milan.
Douglas Costa changed the match when he came on for the injured Miralem Pjanic, providing three assists for Mario Mandzukic, Benedikt Hoewedes and Sami Khedira.
Juventus moved six points clear of Napoli with six matches remaining – including the two sides playing each other.
“We have to thank Pjanic for getting injured because maybe at that moment I wouldn’t have changed things,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri joked.
“Douglas and (Gonzaolo) Higuain are two players who I wanted to use to change the match. I chose the Brazilian to stretch Samp.”
Juventus was looking to bounce back from the disappointment of Wednesday’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid, decided by a stoppage-time penalty in the second leg when seconds away from forcing extra time at 3-0.
Allegri had mixed feelings about Sunday’s win.
“Is it a decisive step toward the title? Absolutely not. But it was important to win after Madrid and the guys were good because it wasn’t easy after such a tiring match,” Allegri said.
Lazio hosts Roma in the capital derby later Sunday in a crucial match for both sides’ Champions League chances.
The top four from Serie A qualify for Europe’s premier club competition. Lazio and Roma are third and fourth, respectively, but on the same number of points as fifth-placed Inter Milan, which drew 0-0 at Atalanta on Saturday.
Milan, which had hopes of sneaking into the top four, is seven points behind.
Juventus struggled to find a way through the Samp defense and the visitors almost took the lead but Gianluigi Buffon, who was sent off midweek, managed to parry a close-range header from Fabio Quagliarella.