Serie A leaders Juventus, their pride wounded by defeat at Fiorentina eight days ago, brushed aside Lazio 2-0 on Sunday after coach Massimiliano Allegri threw caution to the wind in response to criticism following last weekend’s reverse.
Second-placed AS Roma squeezed past Cagliari 1-0 thanks to Edin Dzeko’s 14th league goal of the season to keep up the pressure and Inter Milan won their sixth successive league game as they beat Palermo by the same score in a rain-sodden match.
Allegri, an often pragmatic coach, fielded an ultra-attacking line-up and it quickly paid off as his side stunned sleepy Lazio with early goals from Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain on the way to a 27th straight home league win.
“I don’t spend much time on theories, I just put my ideas on to the pitch even if they are weird,” Allegri told reporters.
“This is one of the solutions we came up with and the lads have given me a great response.”
Juve have 48 points, one ahead of AS Roma with Napoli a further three behind in third after a 2-1 win at AC Milan on Saturday.
Juve, who have a game in hand over their rivals, started with three forwards plus winger Juan Cuadrado and switched to a four-man defence as Allegri decided to try something new.
Dybala broke the deadlock five minutes into the match when he met Mario Mandzukic’s header at an awkward height and fired home a low volley from outside the area.
His fellow Argentine Higuain made it 2-0 when he caught two defenders napping and got in between them to turn home Juan Cuadrado’s cross for his 14th league goal this season.
Higuain had another effort disallowed while defender Leonardo Bonucci turned the ball just wide from a cross by the Argentine after charging forward before halftime.
Dzeko volleyed in from Antonio Rudiger’s pass in the 55th minute as Roma won their 13th home league match in a row.
Inter Milan notched up their sixth successive league win after Joao Mario came off the bench to score the only goal of their game at Palermo, played in torrential rain.
Inter’s Cristian Ansaldi and Palermo’s Alessandro Gazzi were sent off in the final 10 minutes as some wild tackles flew on the slippery surface.
Robin Quaison had the ball in the net for Palermo late on but his effort was disallowed because the referee had not authorised Alessandro Diamanti to take the free kick.
The win took Inter up to fifth on 39 points.
Bologna’s Blerim Dzemaili scored twice in a 2-0 win over fading Torino, who were without suspended top scorer Andrea Belotti.
Alessandro Matri also scored twice as Sassuolo won 3-1 at bottom club Pescara, the second goal a volley from an impossible angle which appeared to have been intended as a cross.
Genoa’s Giovanni Simeone, son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, scored but his team were twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw with visiting Crotone.
Relegation already appears a foregone conclusion for Palermo and Crotone, both 11 points adrift of the safety zone, and Pescara, who are a further point behind at the bottom.