Football: Gonzalo Higuain brace takes Juventus closer to sixth Scudetto in a row as Roma falter

Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain (right) controls the ball during the match against Pescara.
Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain (right) controls the ball during the match against Pescara. PHOTO: AFP

MILAN (REUTERS) - Gonzalo Higuain scored two first-half goals to give Juventus a 2-0 win at bottom club Pescara which took them eight points clear at the top of Serie A on Saturday and closer to a sixth successive title.

Juventus were given a helping hand by Atalanta who held second-placed AS Roma to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico, adding to an unhappy spell for the hosts who have recently been knocked out of the Europa League and Italian Cup.

Third-placed Napoli edged to within two points of Roma with a 3-0 win at home to Udinese.

Juventus have 80 points with Roma on 72 and Napoli 70. Milan stayed sixth, the last of the Europa League spots, and two points clear of seventh-placed Inter.

Higuain turned in Juan Cuadrado's cross to give Juventus a 23rd-minute lead at Pescara, and he slid in the second just before half-time after Mario Mandzukic knocked the ball into his path.

Atalanta took a first-half lead at Roma with Jasmin Kurtic's volley before Mohamed Salah laid the ball off for Edin Dzeko to level soon after the interval with his 25th goal of the season.

Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan both hit the woodwork as Roma pressed desperately for a winner that did not come.

"It's not the time to throw the toys out of the pram, nor is it a great situation because we've gone out of two cups," said Roma coach Luciano Spalletti.

"If you have the quality, ultimately someone has to take responsibility."

"Every now and again, we go into our shells and become overwhelmed by doubt, which is what happened in the first half."

Napoli, the league's top scorers with 75 goals, broke through against Udinese three minutes into the second half when Dries Mertens ran onto Jorginho's through ball to beat Orestis Karnezis.

Midfielder Allan bullied Ali Adnan off the ball before rifling in the second in the 63rd minute, just after Duvan Zapata hit the post for Udinese, and Jose Callejon added the third.

Torino forward Andrea Belotti won and converted a controversial penalty against Crotone to take his season's tally to 25 and stay level with Dzeko as Serie A's joint top-scorer, but Simy earned the relegation-threatened visitors a 1-1 draw.

Empoli boosted their survival hopes by beating Fiorentina 2-1 away with another controversial penalty awarded for an alleged trip by Borja Valero on Manuel Pucciarelli.

Manuel Pasqual ignored the Fiorentina protests to convert and put Empoli, who are 17th, five points clear of the relegation zone.

Fourth-placed Lazio twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Genoa where Ivan Juric was back on the bench, less than three months after previously being fired.