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Juventus 2 Espanyol 2: Dybala brilliance seals draw on Higuain´s first start

Juventus were denied a fourth pre-season win in a row as they were held 2-2 by Espanyol on Saturday.

The Serie A champions, who handed a first start to €90million signing Gonzalo Higuain, rescued a draw in the closing minutes through a brilliant Paulo Dybala strike after Gerard Moreno looked to have given the 10-man LaLiga side the victory.

Espanyol had earlier taken the lead 10 minutes before half-time, as Baptistao turned inside Andrea Barzagli before slotting a clever finish past Gianluigi Buffon, with Mario Mandzukic equalising nine mintues after the restart for Juve.

Massimiliano Allegri named a strong starting line-up but his side struggled to find their rhythm against a side who had gone unbeaten in pre-season prior to Saturday’s contest in Mondena.

The first half ended on a sour note, however, when a nasty clash of heads between Pablo Piatti and Hernan Perez forced the latter to be replaced by Jose Manuel Jurado after lengthy treatment on the pitch.

Dybala twice came close to an equaliser just after half-time, forcing Roberto into a good save before just failing to collect a high ball in behind the Espanyol defence.

Mandzukic rattled the post with a header as Juve began to step up their search for a goal, but the Croatian made no mistake just four minutes later.

Kwadwo Asamoah raced onto Dybala’s clever flighted pass, before turning a low cross back into the six-yard area, where Mandzukic was on hand to bundle home.

Quique Sanchez Flores’ side were forced to play the final 13 minutes with 10 men after Victor Sanchez picked up a second yellow card, but they struck on the break with three minutes to play to regain the lead.

Substitute goalkeeper Neto made a brilliant save to deny Jurado’s half-volley, but Moreno was on hand to tap into the unguarded net.

Juve were facing their first pre-season defeat since a penalty shootout loss to Melbourne Victory last month, but Dybala rescued the draw with a sublime left-footed shot from 20 yards that nestled into the top-right corner.

Sat 13 Aug, 2016
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