MILAN (AP) — Gonzalo Higuain is once again a lean, mean, goal-scoring machine.
The Argentine scored another two to help visiting Juventus beat AC Milan 2-0 on Saturday.
Juventus moved level on points with Napoli at the top of Serie A. Napoli hosts Sassuolo on Sunday.
Roma was four points back, in fifth, after beating Bologna 1-0. The capital side will have played a match less than most other teams when the weekend is over, as its fixture at Sampdoria in September was postponed because of bad weather.
Higuain, who netted 32 times last campaign, had a relatively quiet start to the season, scoring only twice in the first eight matches in all competitions. His confidence appeared to dip after being dropped by Argentina.
However, Higuain appears to have lost weight and is back to the form which persuaded Juventus to spend an Italian record 90 million euros (then $99 million) to sign him from Napoli in 2016.
These were his 100th and 101st goals in Serie A. Higuain also scored more than 100 in the Spanish league, for Real Madrid, and became only the second player to net a century in two of Europe’s top five leagues after Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“I’ve always been the same player as before, I don’t listen to criticism nor praise,” said Higuain, who rejected the notion that his brace was the perfect response to his critics.
“I never respond to those who criticize me. I only want to help the team and these goals are for all those who have always believed in me, not for the others. We are strong, and when we play like this it’s difficult to beat us.”
Milan has won just one of its past six matches.
“It was an even match but Higuain made the difference,” Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. “Sometimes you also have to compliment the opposition, Higuain scored two phenomenal strikes. There are few Higuains out there.”
Higuain ensured Juventus had the last laugh in the latest showdown, which began with spectacular choreography by Milan fans before the game, mocking their opponent’s European record with a giant banner depicting a Halloween scene of seven gravestones, each bearing the year of one of Juve’s Champions League final defeats.
There were also loud boos for former Milan coach and player Massimiliano Allegri and Mattia De Sciglio.
A sensational Stephan El Shaarawy volley proved the difference as Roma narrowly beat Bologna in an entertaining match.
El Shaarawy netted the only goal late in the first half. The Italy forward ran into the area to volley in Alessandro Florenzi’s corner in off the underside of the crossbar at the far top corner.
Immediately after scoring, El Shaarawy held up a Roma jersey bearing Rick Karsdorp’s name and number in a show of support to his injured teammate.
Karsdorp is expected to be sidelined for six months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Wednesday during a win over Crotone.
The Netherlands defender was making his debut after injuring his right knee days after joining Roma from Feyenoord in June.
It was the third successive Serie A match Roma has won 1-0. It has let in just five league goals.
Roma hosts Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, and Juventus travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon.
More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA