April 7, 2018 / 4:56 PM / 15 days ago

Contentious penalty helps Juve beat defiant Benevento

MILAN (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.

Soccer Football - Serie A - Benevento Calcio vs Juventus - Stadio Ciro Vigorito, Benevento, Italy - April 7, 2018 Juventus' Douglas Costa in action REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

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.

Juve’s win took them seven points clear of second-placed Napoli who host Chievo on Sunday.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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