Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pescara 0 Juventus 2: Higuain at the double as Dybala suffers injury

SoccerNews in Serie A 15 Apr 2017

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Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as Juventus followed their victory over Barcelona with a 2-0 win at Pescara in Serie A, although Paulo Dybala suffered a worrying injury ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg.

While Massimiliano Allegri rested six from his team’s midweek European triumph, Higuain and Dybala – the latter of whom netted twice in the 3-0 first-leg win – both kept their places.

Higuain took centre stage as he peppered the Pescara goal with shots in the opening 45 minutes and twice beat goalkeeper Vincenzo Fiorillo, but Dybala’s second-half knock gave Allegri cause for concern just four days before a trip to Camp Nou.

Although the 23-year-old tried to play on after an apparent blow to his ankle in a 47th-minute challenge with Sulley Muntari, he again went down and was replaced by Stefano Sturaro shortly afterwards to leave Juve worrying over their forward’s fitness.

The champions’ title defence was at least boosted as the bottom-of-the-table side rarely threatened after a bright start, while second-placed Roma’s draw against Atalanta saw the Bianconeri’s gap at the top stretched to eight points with six games remaining.

Gaston Brugman’s snapshot brought a save from Neto after just eight seconds and the energetic hosts stretched an unfamiliar Juve backline in the early stages.

But Allegri’s men soon found their feet and Higuain squared for Mario Mandzukic to test Fiorillo from close range, before the Argentina international fired off target.

The breakthrough arrived for Juve in the 22nd minute, with Juan Cuadrado swiftly pouncing on the rebound from his own low shot to tee up Higuain for a simple finish into an open goal.

Higuain then squandered an opportunity to double his tally as he nodded Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross wide and Mandzukic was similarly wasteful as he escaped the Pescara defence to drag a volley past the left-hand post.

As Juve continued to build momentum, Fiorillo saved well after Higuain created space for a shot with an inventive piece of skill on the right, before the brilliant Cuadrado picked out Mandzukic, who headed over.

Two minutes before half-time, Higuain prodded in a second as he stretched onto Mandzukic’s knockdown ahead of Fiorillo.

The goalkeeper was able to keep Dybala at bay with a smart stop moments later and there was concern for the Juve forward at the start of the second half as he went down under a heavy challenge from Muntari and was later withdrawn.

Substitute Sturaro ran through to prod a tame finish at Fiorillo, but Juve cruised through the remaining minutes with Pescara offering little in response.

Allegri and his side can now turn their attentions back to European action and Barca, with close attention sure to be paid to Dybala’s fitness.

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