Gonzalo Higuain scored the winner against former club Napoli as Juventus strengthened their grip at the top of Serie A with a 2-1 win at the Juventus Stadium.
Leonardo Bonucci had given the hosts the lead early in the second half before Jose Callejon swiftly levelled for the visitors, volleying home his seventh league goal of the season from close range.
But on 70 minutes it was Higuain who took centre stage, driving a low shot into the bottom right corner to snap a four-match goal drought and further justify the €90million Juventus paid Napoli to secure his services.
Having shared a pre-match embrace with Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, the Argentine was careful not to celebrate his goal, instead waving away his team-mates and walking back to the centre circle.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men had crushed Sampdoria in midweek, but they were forced to work far harder to down the third-placed visitors and secure a sixth straight home league win.
Sarri’s side had looked capable of ending a run of five successive away defeats against the Turin club, but were ultimately unable to force their way back into the game for a second time.
The first half gradually improved following a decidedly cagey opening, with Stephan Lichtsteiner wasting the home side’s first opportunity when he blazed wildly over after Pepe Reina had only managed to parry Alex Sandro’s deep cross from the left.
And five minutes later it was Juventus who threatened again, this time Vlad Chiriches producing a perfectly timed challenge to block Higuain, who had latched on to Sami Khedira’s fine ball into the box.
Napoli, whose fans were banned from attending in a bid to keep the peace, also mustered two efforts of note during the opening period, Allan drilling a low shot straight at Gianlugi Buffon from the edge of the box and Faouzi Ghoulam then curling a 25-yard free-kick over the bar.
In contrast to the first half, the second exploded into life almost immediately, with two goals arriving in the opening nine minutes.
The first was claimed by Bonucci, who reacted quickest to Ghoulam’s sliced clearance as it looped back into the box and rifled a shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards out.
But Napoli hit back just four minutes later as Callejon timed his run perfectly to meet Lorenzo Insigne’s chipped throughball and calmly volley past Buffon.
At that stage, the visitors looked set to claim a valuable point, but ultimately it was to be Higuain and Juventus’ night – the striker almost destined to have the final say following his acrimonious Napoli exit.
The only negative for the hosts was the loss of influential defender Giorgio Chiellini, who limped from the fray with what looked like a hamstring injury just before half-time.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!