Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Derby delight for Juve ... Napoli, Inter also win ahead of Roma/Milan clash

Published:Monday | December 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Genoa’s Giovanni Simeone (foreground) and Inter Milan’s Joao Mario vie for the ball during a Serie A match between Inter Milan and Genoa at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, yesterday. Inter Milan won the game 2-0.

MILAN (AP):

Gonzalo Higuain celebrated his birthday weekend with two goals as he helped Juventus to a 3-1 victory at Torino in a thrilling derby yesterday.

Goals from two of the best strikers in European football looked like ensuring the Derby della Mole would end with honours even. Higuain cancelled out Andrea Belotti's opener for Torino, with both scoring on their first opportunity.

But Higuain doubled his tally in the 83rd minute and substitute Miralem Pjanic sealed the result in stoppage time.

Juventus moved seven points clear of second-place Roma and AC Milan, which play each other today.

"It was a special match," Higuain said. "We were losing, we were in difficulty but after we equalised, we stayed in control and in the end, we won. Winning the derby, scoring and having a good team performance was a lovely birthday present.

"Is it a message for Roma and Milan? We did our job, we had to win and we did so. What they do tomorrow (today) is their problem."

Juventus hosts Roma on Saturday.

There was a passionate atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico and the home supporters were furious when Belotti was brought down by Daniele Rugani, as he was about to run clear through on goal, but the referee waved play on.

Mario Mandzukic had two chances in quick succession for Juventus, but sent a free header wide and then had another attempt kept out by a sensational save from England goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Belotti broke the deadlock moments later, in the 16th. Davide Zappacosta burst down the right flank and threaded the ball through to Daniele Baselli, who crossed for Belotti to head into the bottom left corner.

It was the 22-year-old Italy forward's fifth goal in as many matches.

Higuain levelled in the 28th, running onto Mandzukic's through ball and into the area before firing into the bottom left corner.

Torino had the better of the chances in the second half and should have retaken the lead on the hour, but Marco Benassi's effort was blocked by Mandzukic and Iago Falque volleyed the rebound wide.

Adem Ljajic also went close in the 73rd, but curled an attempt inches wide of the right post.

Torino was made to pay for their missed opportunities as Higuain fired Juventus in front seven minutes from time. The Argentine controlled the ball before swivelling and firing through the legs of Torino defender Antonio Barreca and into the bottom left corner.

It was the ninth goal of the season for Higuain, who turned 29 on Saturday. The Argentine moved up to fourth in the goal-scoring charts, two behind third-place Belotti.

Torino strove to get the equaliser but were caught out by another counter-attack, and Paulo Dybala's pass sent Higuain through. Hart pulled off a fantastic save and did so again to deny Pjanic, but the Bosnia and Herzegovina international tapped in the rebound.

Dries Mertens netted a hat trick as Napoli equalled their biggest Serie A away win with a 5-0 drubbing of Cagliari in another match.

Atalanta fell to their second straight defeat as they surprisingly lost 3-1 at home to Udinese. Defeat at Juventus last week had ended a run of seven successive wins, but Atalanta were expected to get back on track.

Atalanta dominated, but Duvan Zapata gave Udinese an unexpected lead completely against the run of play - on the stroke of half-time.

Jasmin Kurtic levelled, but Seko Fofana restored Udinese's lead in one of their rare attacks and Cyril Thereau sealed matters late on.

Elsewhere, Sergio Pellissier scored his 100th Serie A goal to help Chievo Verona beat bottom club Palermo 2-0, and Bologna drew 0-0 with Empoli.

In the late kick-off, Inter Milan beat Genoa 2-0 at the San Siro with Marcelo Brozovic scoring both goals.