Higuain smashes Juve win­ner over old club Napoli

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

GON­ZALO HIGUAIN hit a fairy­tale win­ner as Ju­ven­tus edged the Ar­gen­tine’s for­mer club Napoli 2-1 in Turin yes­ter­day to stretch their lead to five points at the top of Italy’s Serie A.

Higuain, who hit a Serie A record of 36 goals for Napoli last sea­son, has be­come a hate fig­ure at the San Paolo sta­dium after mov­ing to Ju­ven­tus for an Ital­ian trans­fer record fee of €90m.

Al­though he can ex­pect a red-hot wel­come from Napoli fans, many of whom burned his shirt in dis­gust at his move, when the south­ern­ers host the cham­pi­ons on April 2, Higuain was mind­ful not to cel­e­brate after hit­ting his sev­enth league goal of the sea­son.

A su­perb vol­ley by Leonardo Bonucci gave Ju­ven­tus a 50th minute lead, only for Jose Calle­jon to beat Gian­luigi Buf­fon four min­utes later from Lorenzo In­signe’s su­perb chip.

A tense and tac­ti­cally-tight af­fair, which saw a num­ber of clashes be­tween play­ers, looked to be head­ing for a 1-1 draw.

But when Higuain’s cross for Sami Khedira spilled back into the striker’s path, he made no mis­take with a first-time drive that beat Pepe Reina down low on 70 min­utes.

Ju­ven­tus, aim­ing for a record sixth con­sec­u­tive ‘ scud­etto’ this sea­son, now have a five-point lead on Roma ahead of their visit to Em­poli.

“It was im­por­tant to win tonight,” said Ju­ven­tus coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri. “If we drew, Roma could have pulled level on points with us to­mor­row. In­stead, we won and now Napoli are seven points be­hind us. I think who­ever came to see us tonight had a good time.”

Napoli could drop to fourth if AC Mi­lan ac­count for lowly Pescara at the San Siro later.

But Napoli coach Mau­r­izio Sarri in­sists they are Juve’s real ri­vals: “We have faith in our­selves. We’re Juve’s key ri­vals, and peo­ple know it.”

Sarri ad­mit­ted Higuain’s de­par­ture still hurt. “We lost one of the best for­wards in the world and the club made the de­ci­sion to buy young play­ers. I think the club made the right choice,” he added.

When Brazil­ian mid­fielder Al­lan pow­ered to­wards goal un­chal­lenged, his tame drive from 25 yards gave Buf­fon no trou­ble.

In­jury to Chiellini then prompted coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri to in­tro­duce Juan Cuadrado shortly be­fore the in­ter­val but the Colom- Napoli goal­keeper Pepe Reina (right) blocks a shot by Ju­ven­tus’ Gon­zalo Higuain dur­ing their Ital­ian Serie A match at the Ju­ven­tus Sta­dium in Turin yes­ter­day. bian, who came off the bench to hit the win­ner in a 1-0 Cham­pi­ons League win at Lyon two weeks ago, was beaten to the opener.

A messy clear­ance by Faouzi Ghoulam fol­low­ing a cor­ner caught Bonucci’s at­ten­tion and he turned quickly to smash a su­perb vol­ley past Reina and into the roof of the net five min­utes after the restart.

“This win is down to Juve never-say-die spirit. Tonight that’s the at­ti­tude we had, after be­ing without it at the San Siro (when Juve lost to AC Mi­lan last week),” said Bonucci. – AFP


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