MILAN — Roma forward Edin Dzeko has a point to prove.
He wasn’t the striker Roma hoped for after it signed him from Manchester City in August 2015. Last season was full of disappointment.
But he’s finally showing his ruthlessness, with two more goals as Roma beat Napoli 3-1 on Saturday in a top-of-the-Serie A clash.
Dzeko, who also scored twice for Bosnia and Herzegovina midweek, has seven goals in eight league appearances this season — just one less than he scored in 31 appearances in his debut Serie A campaign.
He tops the scoring charts, one ahead of Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain, Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi, and AC Milan’s Carlos Bacca.
“I’ve had preseason with the squad, I feel good, I feel everyone’s confidence in me,” Dzeko said when asked what had changed from last season. “I’m happy for myself and for the team which won a difficult match.
“The criticism was normal, it wasn’t my best year. For that reason I wanted to do better this season and at the moment it’s going good.”
Dzeko netted his first goal two minutes from halftime when Mohamed Salah stole the ball off Kalidou Koulibaly at the byline and swung in a cross for Dzeko to volley home.
He doubled his tally nine minutes after the interval, placing a header into the bottom left corner from Alessandro Florenzi’s free kick.
Koulibaly atoned for his earlier error by rising highest at the near post to head in a corner off the opposite upright, and getting Napoli straight back into the game.
But Salah sealed matters four minutes from time, beating the offside trap to race forward and fire in off the base of the left post.
It was Roma’s first away win of the season, and the capital club leapfrogged Napoli into second spot, five points behind Juventus.
Napoli is two points further back after its first league defeat at Stadio San Paolo since May 2015. It was clearly missing striker Arkadiusz Milik, who has had a great start to the season but was ruled out for six months after tearing a ligament on international duty.
It was also the first time Napoli has lost two successive league matches under Maurizio Sarri.
“The positive thing is that the team didn’t give me the feeling that they are spent and dead,” Sarri said. “It’s clearly a difficult period but we have to remain calm.”
Napoli hosts Besiktas in the Champions League on Wednesday, a day after Juventus visits Lyon.
JUVENTUS 2, UDINESE 1
In contrast to Dzeko, Paulo Dybala had a great debut season at Juventus but struggled at the start of the current campaign.
However, he scored for the third successive match, in all competitions, netting twice as his side fought back from surprisingly going a goal down.
“Luckily I managed to score the second goal too. I’m happy for myself and for the team, but we still have to improve,” Dybala said.
“We have to think about ourselves and continue like this, without worrying about the other teams. Plus we still have to play Roma and Napoli, so we’ll wait and see.”
Dybala equalized two minutes from halftime, curling a delightful free kick into the top right corner, and scored what was to prove the winner from the penalty spot in the 51st after Rodrigo De Paul tripped Alex Sandro.
It was former Juventus coach Luigi Delneri’s first match in charge of Udinese after replacing Giuseppe Iachini during the international break.
Udinese, which is one point above the relegation zone, stunned the Juventus Stadium into silence on the half-hour following a series of errors by the hosts. Hernanes failed to control a poor pass from Patrice Evra and Jakub Jankto’s effort slipped through Gianluigi Buffon’s hands.
Buffon also made a rare error last week, when playing for Italy, almost costing his team the match before Daniele De Rossi’s late penalty rescued a 1-1 draw against Spain in their World Cup qualifier.
PESCARA 1, SAMPDORIA 1
Pescara played half the match with 10 men but managed to cling on for a valuable point and could even have won had Gianluca Caprari not had a penalty saved by Sampdoria goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
Pescara defender Andrea Coda was sent off in the final minute of the first half following a second yellow card, with the score at 1-1 after teammate Hugo Campagnaro struck at both ends.
Pescara moved a point off the relegation zone ahead of the rest of the weekend’s matches. Sampdoria is two points above the bottom three.