Ju­ven­tus see off Em­poli

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

GON­ZALO HIGUAIN (pix) hit a brace to help Ju­ven­tus ce­ment top spot in Serie A with a 3-0 win away at Em­poli yes­ter­day.

Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri’s men trav­elled to the Carlo Castel­lani sta­dium, where the hosts’ best re­sult against the Bian­coneri was a score­less draw in 2008, con­fi­dent of en­sur­ing that they would re­main on top of the table go­ing into the in­ter­na­tional break.

Yet the Turin giants missed a host of firsthalf chances be­fore Ar­gen­tine striker Paulo Dy­bala fi­nally broke the dead­lock on 65 min­utes with a close-range strike.

It opened the flood­gates, Higuain pounc­ing on Mario Lem­ina’s pre­ci­sion pass only two min­utes later to beat Lukasz Sko­rup­ski from the edge of the area.

Three min­utes af­ter that, the Ar­gen­tine cheek­ily dis­pos­sessed Marco Zam­belli yards from the Em­poli goal to round the Pol­ish ‘keeper for his sec­ond of the day.

Higuain moves on to seven goals in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son, six in Serie A, in which he is level with com­pa­triot Mauro Icardi, whose In­ter Mi­lan side face Roma at the Sta­dio Olimpico later on Sun­day.

Ju­ven­tus, aim­ing for a record sixth con­sec­u­tive Serie A ti­tle this sea­son, are now four points ahead of Napoli ahead of their visit to Ata­lanta.

Higuain was one of the first play­ers to run and pay trib­ute to Juve’s trav­el­ling sup­port at the end of the game, but the open­ing half was one of missed op­por­tu­nity.

Sami Khedira was vis­i­bly frus­trated when he was re­placed on the hour by Lem­ina, and the Ger­man in­ter­na­tional had plenty of rea­son.

Af­ter just nine min­utes, Khedira beat the off­side trap to chest down Dy­bala’s chip and un­leash a vol­ley from close range that came off the cross­bar.

It was not the first glar­ing miss by the Ger­man this sea­son, but he wasn’t the only cul­prit.

The pace and move­ment of Juan Cuadrado had Em­poli in dis­sar­ray, but the Colom­bian for­ward spurned sev­eral great chances for the opener.

On 19 min­utes Sko­rup­ski did well to parry Cuadrado’s drive from the right side of the area and soon af­ter col­lected Dy­bala’s snap shot af­ter he latched on to Cuadrado’s pass on the edge of the area.

When Cuadrado was set free down the right with only the ‘keeper to beat, his an­gled drive came back off the far post.

Cuadrado was marked in some­what tighter fash­ion soon af­ter as he bore down again, fir­ing his drive straight to Sko­rup­ski.

Ju­ven­tus were fi­nally set free on 65 min­utes, Alex San­dro draw­ing two play­ers on the left side of the area to set up Dy­bala. He took one touch to con­trol the Brazil­ian’s ball be­fore fir­ing an un­stop­pable left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

Em­poli’s heads went down, and their de­fence cru­cially backed off al­low­ing Higuain, af­ter col­lect­ing Lem­ina’s an­gled pass, to fire past Sko­rup­ski at the keeper’s near post.

Three min­utes later Higuain chased a pan­icked Zam­belli into the area be­fore steal­ing the ball and round­ing Sko­rup­ski to com­plete his brace. – AFP

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