Higuain discovers his shooting boots
Gonzalo Higuain got Juventus’ Champions League campaign off the mark, coming on as a substitute to lift last year’s finalists to a 2-0 Group D win over Olympiakos last night.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side needed to reignite their European campaign after falling 3-0 to Barcelona in Spain two weeks ago.
And Higuain hit back after being dropped by Allegri by opening the scoring after 69 minutes and having a hand in Mario Mandzukic’s second on 80 minutes at the Allianz Arena.
“I made a choice and Higuain wasn’t as good as the others,” said Allegri of his decision to leave the Argentine on the bench for a second straight game. “But we saw this evening that he already moved differently. He has never been a problem and never will be. He’s a player who can make the difference and win us games.”
Striker Romelu Lukaku continued his remarkable scoring run with two goals as Manchester United swept aside CSKA Moscow.
The Belgium international arrived from Everton in the summer with a £90million price tag but has done plenty to quickly justify that sum as he clinically exposed an ageing defence at the VEB Arena.
Lukaku took his tally to 10 goals in nine appearances as he scored in his eighth successive European game with a double in the first half either side of an Anthony Martial penalty with Henrikh Mkhitaryan adding a fourth after the interval.
In doing so Lukaku became the first United player to score in his opening two Champions League matches as the Red Devils established an early three-point lead at the top of Group A.
CSKA fielded three central defenders with a combined age of 101 and Viktor Vasin, the spring chicken at 28, was the only one not to be wholly embarrassed.
Just four minutes in Martial swung over a cross from the left to the far post where Lukaku outjumped the 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich to head home – making it 45 Champions League games proper without a clean sheet for Igor Akinfeev.
The goalkeeper’s legs kept out Mkhitaryan’s shot but when the Armenian was brought down by Georgi Schennikov, Martial – a constant threat down the left – confidently stroked home the penalty.
Another Martial cross from the left was completely missed by Vasili Berezutski, 35, to present Lukaku with a simple side-foot finish to make it 3-0 and the Belgian was only denied his hat-trick by a good low Akinfeev save.
Mourinho had said pre-match the current CSKA side were the best he had faced but that appeared flattery of the highest order.
Fedor Chalov’s 37th-minute shot brought a first-class tip-over from David de Gea but it was a rare threat.
Lukaku was again denied his hattrick by Akinfeev early in the second half but when the goalkeeper parried Martial’s shot Mkhitaryan was on hand to slot home.
Knows where the goal is: Gonzalo Higuain strikes.
Luk at me: The United striker (c).