Gonzalo Higuain scored twice on his first Juventus start as the Serie A champions maintained their 100 per cent record for the new season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Sassuolo.
Having appeared as a substitute in Juve’s first two games of the league campaign, Higuain made a stunning impact on his full debut by scoring twice in the first 10 minutes – a cool finish followed by an impressive acrobatic volley.
Miralem Pjanic then struck in what was also his first starting appearance since signing for the club, with defender Luca Antei getting one back for Sassuolo before the break in what proved to be the game’s last goal.
The result means Juve have won three consecutive games to kick off the campaign as they seek a sixth straight Scudetto.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side can now turn their attention to a big week that will see them play Sevilla in the Champions League before taking on rivals Inter at San Siro.
Gianluigi Buffon got down sharply to make an early save from Matteo Politano, an intervention which was made all the more important by Higuain’s rampant start.
In the fourth minute, the former Real Madrid forward latched on to strike partner Paulo Dybala’s pass to cap a fast break with a low finish into the far corner.
Higuain soon had his second when he pounced on Sami Khedira’s header and smashed in a superb volley from 12 yards out.
Leonardo Bonucci – returning to the Juve side as part of four changes from Allegri – headed narrowly wide from Dybala’s corner as the hosts threatened to run riot.
A third goal did arrive in the 27th minute when Pjanic directed an excellent header off the crossbar following Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross before reacting fastest to find the top corner from the rebound.
Sassuolo got one back six minutes later when Buffon and Alex Sandro both failed to clear Francesco Magnanelli’s corner, allowing Antei to fortuitously convert from close range.
Khedira was looking to score for the third straight Serie A game and he tested Andrea Consigli from long range early in the second half.
Consgili then made a great stop to deny Pjanic a second as the midfielder collected Dybala’s pass and bore down on goal, before Alex Sandro was not far away with his effort after collecting the rebound.
Dybala had a shot of his own saved, Giorgio Chiellini headed just off-target and Consigli denied Lichtsteiner while Higuain had two efforts blocked as he sought a hat-trick, with a fourth Juve goal continuing to look more likely than a second for the visitors.
Juve closed out a routine victory by withdrawing Higuain, Khedira and Dybala, with Sassuolo struggling in attack in the absence of injured talisman Domenico Berardi.
Indeed, they did not produce a second-half shot on target until the 88th minute when Lichtsteiner raced back to clear Politano’s strike off the line and end any hopes of a late comeback.
Key Opta stats:
– Juventus have picked up nine points in the first three league games – they had collected one in their first three Serie A fixtures last season.
– Juventus have conceded two goals from corners in the league this season, as many as in the whole 2015-16 Serie A season.
– Gonzalo Higuain has scored nine goals in the last six Serie A appearances, eight in the last four starts.
– Sami Khedira has been involved in six goals in his last seven Serie A appearances (four goals, two assists).