Deadly Higuain breaks Torino hearts

TURIN, Italy: Gonzalo Higuain hit his 19th Serie A brace as Juventus moved provisionally seven points ahead of Roma and AC Milan at the top with a 3-1 derby win over Torino on Sunday. Scoring his last league goal in a 2-1 win over Napoli at the end of October, Juve fans had every right to be concerned about Higuain’s consistency following his 90-million-euro move to Turin in the summer. But the Argentine netted in Juve’s 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb in midweek and he confirmed his return to form with a well-taken double that left England goalkeeper Joe Hart with no chance.
“It was a great derby that we won thanks to some late changes,” said coach Massimiliano Allegri, whose side were given a spur by the late introduction of Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic, the Bosnian hitting Juve’s third at the death.
“Higuain was moving well and did well for us.”
Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic had upped the stakes at a dramatic pre-match press conference attended by a 60-year-old fan and the club’s long-serving kit man at which he claimed the “whole of Torino” was set on beating their arch rivals.
But with only one win from the past 21 derbies — a 2-1 defeat of Juve in April 2015 that ended their 20-year wait for bragging rights — the pressure was all on Torino, and by the end the Serbian conceded defeat to the richer, more powerful neighbours.
“We wanted to win this game and, looking at the chances we created, we should perhaps have had more,” said Mihajlovic.
“But Juve have a team that’s capable of challenging at home and in Europe, while we are trying to qualify for the Europa League.”
The Juve victory saw the champions stretch their lead at the top, with Roma hosting AC Milan on Monday night.
Hart needed to act quickly to stop Mario Mandzukic turning in from close range, but hosts Torino settled quickly and were 1-0 up on the quarter hour.
Daniele Baselli kept the ball in play at the right touchline and delivered a cross for Andrea Belotti to send a header past Gianluigi Buffon and into the far bottom corner. Higuain soon had the visitors level when he powered clear on an accidental flick by Mandzukic to fire past Hart on 28 minutes.
— AFP

Oman Observer

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