Higuain wins strikers' battle as Juve go 7 points clear
Serie A By: Jide Alaka | 18/12/2016
It was first against second and the goal-scoring prowess of Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain against Roma’s Edin Dzeko and it was Higuain’s solo first half goal that won the match and extended Juve’s lead atop the table to seven points going into the winter break. A very physical encounter was punctuated by a moment of magic from the costliest player in Serie A bullied Daniele De Rossi off the ball and stepped inside Konstantinos Manolas before unleashing a left-footed shot that went in off Wojciech Szczesny’s right-hand post. The league leaders started very brightly and pushed Roma back into their own half with Mario Mandzukic as the instigator in chief. The Croat was unlucky not to pick out a teammate in just the second minute as he went on a driving run down the right flank. De Rossi was booked for a studs-showing challenge on Miralem Pjanic and that could have been playing on his mind as he tangled with Higuain in the lead up to the Argentine’s goal. When it was delivered it was pure class. After the goal, the game got a bit tetchy as referee Daniele Orsato sought to maintain some calm as tackles flew in and players feigned injuries. Dzeko was booked on 16 minutes for a verbal tirade on the referee after he thought the referee should have blown for a foul on Gerson. Daniele Rugani, who started with Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner, and Alex Sandro, in Juve’s back1
four was then booked for a trip on Dzeko. By the end of the first half, Luciano Spaletti’s men had wrestled possession by 52% to 48 as they sought the equaliser. The second half started with surprise starter, Gerson replaced by Mohamed Salah as Spaletti chose to inject some pace into his team’s attack. Pjanic then went off injured, replaced by Juan Cuadrado. Massimiliano Allegri changed into a three-man defense when Barzagli came on with 22 minutes on the clock. Salah bypassed two defenders and rolled a pass to Diego Perotti, but the Argentine fluffed his lines. Late on Manolas was just inches away from making contact with a free-kick at the back post. The defender went off injured as Juventus maintained their momentum and surge to win a sixth consecutive Serie A title with their 25th consecutive home win at the Juventus Stadium.