April 7, 2018 / 7:01 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Soccer-Contentious penalty helps Juve beat defiant Benevento

(Updates with Sampdoria v Genoa)

MILAN, April 7 (Reuters) - Serie A leaders Juventus needed two penalties, the second a hugely controversial one awarded for an alleged trip on Gonzalo Higuain, to win 4-2 at bottom-of-the-table Benevento after the hosts twice came from behind to equalise on Saturday.

Paulo Dybala, sent off in the 3-0 Champions League defeat at home to Real Madrid on Tuesday, converted both spot kicks on his way to his third league hat-trick of the season. The main talking point, however, involved Higuain’s role in winning the second penalty.

Nicolas Viola stuck out his leg as Higuain collected a pass and the Argentine’s legs immediately crumpled even though replays showed no visible contact.

However, the referee awarded a penalty and Dybala converted to complete his hat-trick in the 74th minute and put the Turin side 3-2 ahead. Substitute Douglas Costa then completed the scoring with eight minutes left.

Dybala put Juve ahead in the 16th minute, scoring with a curling shot from the edge of the area, but Cheick Diabate levelled for Benevento from close range eight minutes later.

Juventus went back in front in first half stoppage time after Miralem Pjanic was tripped and Dybala converted the first penalty of the afternoon, but Diabate headed Benevento level again six minutes into the second half.

Juventus, chasing a seventh-successive title, have 81 points and moved seven points clear of second-placed Napoli who host Chievo on Sunday.

“It was important to get back to winning after the defeat to Real Madrid,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side visit the Bernabeu for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie on Wednesday.

“We you get thumped like we did, you have to be strong enough to forget about it and look ahead.”

Benevento coach Roberto De Zerbi did not want to comment on the penalties.

“I don’t like talking about those incidents, I prefer to concentrate on what we can do when we have the ball. This team doesn’t deserve to be in last place,” he said.

Fiorentina, seventh with 50 points, won their sixth match in a row when first-half goals from Marco Benassi and Giovanni Simeone gave them a 2-0 win at third-placed AS Roma, who have 60 points.

SPAL picked up another point in their bid to pull off a great escape as a 1-1 draw at home to Atalanta left them in 17th place and three points clear of the danger zone.

Sampdoria and Genoa drew 0-0 in a lacklustre ‘Derby of the Lighthouse’ which produced only six shots on target and left Samp in eighth place and Genoa in 12th.

Sampdoria had more possession while Genoa were happy to avoid a fourth successive defeat in matches against their neighbours. (Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)

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