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Juventus strike first in Italian Cup semis

dpa logodpa 28/02/2017 ALBERTO CAGLIANO

Juventus have beaten Napoli 3-1 to take a handy advantage into their second leg Italian Cup semi-final tie.

Two Paulo Dybala penalties and a Gonzalo Higuain volley helped Juventus beat visiting Napoli 3-1in the first-leg of the Italian Cup semi-finals on Tuesday.

Jose Callejon struck for the Naples guests in the 36th as the trophy holders produced a sluggish first half.

But they switched pace in the second stanza, promptly levelling from the spot with Dybala and taking the lead from former-Napoli striker Higuain before his Argentinian compatriot converted his second penalty 22 minutes from time.

"It was a tough game against a good Napoli," Higuain said. "In the first half we had difficulties pressing high and they played well.

"The boss (Massimiliano Allegri) said we should be patient and in fact we managed to reverse the score. This is the strength of Juve, to work hard and always bounce back.

"It was important to go to Naples with a positive result. I always have respect for Napoli, but I am happy here. We must continue on on this path."

At the Juventus Stadium, Dybala in the 13th minute had a break blocked by Pepe Reina, who deflected Mario Mandzukic's header in the ensuing corner kick.

Juve's Brazilian goalkeeper Neto as usual took over from star Gianluigi Buffon in cup action, saving efforts from Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik.

Higuain hit his first shot above the bar in the 33rd minute, but Callejon did not miss from close range three minutes later as Insigne fed him from the left.

Reina was busy again in the 45th saving a Mandzukic volley and denying the pouncing Stephan Lichtsteiner.

After the break Juan Cuadrado came on for Lichtsteiner to up the tempo for the Bianconeri, who levelled in the 47th minute as Dybala converted after Kalidou Koulibaly floored him in the box.

Higuain struck from a tight angle in the 64th following a corner and Dybala again stunned Reina from the spot five minutes later.

The Spanish goalkeeper was also shown a yellow card for bringing down the goalbound Cuadrado on a counter-attack led by Dybala.

Lazio and Roma meet in a city derby Wednesday in the other semi-final. The return matches are set for April 4 and 5.

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