MILAN, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Five talking points from the Serie A weekend after runaway leaders Juventus stretched their lead at the top to 11 points after a 3-0 win at Sassuolo despite again leaving Paulo Dybala on the bench on Sunday.
Lautaro Martinez scored Inter Milan’s first league goal of the year to give them a 1-0 win at Parma, Udinese fumed at VAR and Torino coach Walter Mazzarri was ordered from the touchline yet again.
Cristiano Ronaldo needs Mario Mandzukic alongside him, Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said as he explained his decision to leave Paulo Dybala on the bench again for Sunday’s 3-0 win at Sassuolo.
“It’s a question of the players’ characteristics,” said Allegri. “With Ronaldo, we need a player who occupies the penalty area and has a physical presence, and that is something Dybala cannot do.
“You can play Ronaldo and Dybala together, but you lose out in some situations. Ronaldo needs Mandzukic and Dybala needs Mandzukic.”
Udinese were furious with the VAR system after having two late goals disallowed in the 1-0 defeat to Torino.
Kevin Lasagne had an 83rd minute effort disallowed for offside but it was the second decision which really angered them.
Stefano Okaka thought he had levelled in the 89th minute but the goal was also chalked off, also for offside against Lasagne who the referee judged to be interfering with goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu’s line of sight.
“VAR was made to deal with major errors and in our opinion Okaka’s goal was absolutely legitimate,” said Udinese director Daniele Prade after a match featuring 11 minutes of stoppage time.
“A player who is 12 metres away cannot affect the goalkeeper, otherwise we won’t be able to shoot from outside the penalty area. Sirigu would never have got there and he didn’t even protest.”
Torino’s win was not enough to placate their fiery coach Walter Mazzarri who was sent off for the fourth time this season during the second half for protesting.
“I don’t want to comment, you can draw your own conclusions,” said Mazzarri, who was also annoyed that his team failed to add a second goal.
“We had a chance to kill the game off but we complicate things for ourselves and make difficult choices,” said the former Napoli, Inter Milan and Watford coach.
Can strikers Mauro Icardi and Lautaro Martinez play together?
The question was raised again after Martinez came off the bench and scored within two minutes to give Inter a 1-0 win at Parma on Saturday for their first Serie A goal and win of the year.
Martinez’s chances have been limited in his first season at Inter as he plays a similar role to his fellow Argentine Icardi, the team captain and leading scorer for the last four seasons.
“Lautaro has fighting spirit and he does really well when the ball comes to him,” said coach Luciano Spalletti.
“Both he and Icardi are our two main strikers. They are very similar and you need to find the right moment to play them. That can be when the opposition looks to press and we have the right peace of mind to support them.”
AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhangolu is still without a league goal this season despite possessing one of the best shots in Serie A - something which is exasperating his coach Gennaro Gattuso.
“He could’ve scored tonight and taken this weight off his shoulders,” said Gattuso after the 3-0 win over Cagliari. “At least I saw him shoot on two or three occasions like he knows how.
“I expect more because he has remarkable technique, but then you have to look at how much he runs, the distance he covers and the work-rate. Overall, I like the way he interprets that role.” (Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)