Napoli holds Juventus to 1-1 draw amid jeers for Higuain
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 03, 2017 09:41 AM
FILE- In this Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 file photo, Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain, front left, celebrates with teammate Marek Hamsik after scoring during a Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Carpi, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy. Higuain is prepared for a fiery reception when he returns to Napoli for the first time since his move to bitter rival Juventus. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta, File)
DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press
MILAN (AP) — Gonzalo Higuain's every touch was greeted with whistles and jeers by his former fans but the Argentina forward had little impact as Juventus could only draw 1-1 at Napoli in Serie A on Sunday.
It was Higuain's first time back at Napoli since his move to bitter rival Juventus for an Italian-record 90 million euros ($100 million) after scoring 36 goals last season to break a 66-year-old Serie A record.
Higuain, who has not scored in five matches, was largely anonymous.
"Higuain had a good game, I'm happy with him," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "He should be grateful to Napoli for what it gave him and Napoli should be grateful to him for what he did."
Thousands of blue whistles had been handed out before the match and they were used often by Napoli supporters to vent their hatred toward their former hero.
They will have another opportunity on Wednesday, when the two teams meet again in the second leg of their Italian Cup semifinal, which Juventus leads 3-1.
League leader Juventus moved six points clear of Roma. Napoli remained third, 10 points below the Bianconeri.
"When a team plays like Napoli did tonight, a coach can go home with all sorts of emotions apart from disappointment," Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. "Never in Italy have we seen Juventus in such difficulty."
It took Juventus less than seven minutes to take the lead when Sami Khedira played a one-two with Miralem Pjanic and slotted past Napoli goalkeeper Rafael, who was standing in for the injured Pepe Reina.
Napoli dominated but Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne sent efforts wide, while Dries Mertens fired straight at Gianluigi Buffon.
Jose Callejon had the ball in the back of the net in the 56th but it was ruled out for offside.
Napoli's pressure paid off four minutes later as Mertens played in a delightful through ball which Hamsik curled into the top right corner.
Napoli almost doubled its tally four minutes later as Mertens ran onto a woeful back pass from Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah but his effort came off the right post.
PESCARA 1, AC MILAN 1
Even the best players make mistakes.
Teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been earning plaudits — and points for AC Milan — with fantastic performances this season. Not on Sunday when he gifted Pescara the opening goal.
Gabriel Paletta's back pass seemed innocuous enough but it bounced over Donnarumma's foot and into the back of the net in the 12th minute. It went down as the Milan defender's own goal but exposed Donnarumma's weakness with his feet.
"They're mistakes that can happen," Milan coach Vincenzo Montella said. "He has to remain calm and serene as he showed himself to be during the match. If we had won, we would have laughed about it."
The 18-year-old 'keeper had recovered from his error when he batted away a cross off the head of Jean-Cristophe Bahebeck at full stretch on the half-hour.
Milan leveled four minutes from the break. Gerard Deulofeu went on a rapid counterattack and his effort was parried by Pescara goalkeeper Vincenzo Fiorillo. After a couple of deflections the ball fell to Mario Pasalic, who equalized with an impressive swiveling volley.
The visitors almost snatched all three points but Alessio Romagnoli's header came off the post.
Milan remained seventh, one point off Inter Milan and the last qualifying spot for the Europa League. Inter hosts Sampdoria on Monday and the two Milan teams face off in the derby on April 15.
Alejandro Gomez netted a hat trick as Atalanta kept up its push for a European spot with a comfortable win at 10-man Genoa.
Genoa forward Mauricio Pinilla, who is on loan from Atalanta, was sent off on the hour for two quick bookings — the first for a tackle on visiting goalkeeper Etrit Berisha and the second for his protests.
Atalanta moved fifth, two points behind Lazio and six behind Napoli.
Andrea Belotti kept up his bid to finish as the league's top goal scorer as Torino fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Udinese.
Belotti, who also had a goal ruled out for offside, netted his 23rd goal of the season on his 100th Serie A appearance, moving him level with Edin Dzeko at the top of the scoring charts.
Palermo lost 3-1 at home to Cagliari in a match which saw Han Kwang-Song become the first North Korean to play in Serie A after the 18-year-old Cagliari forward replaced Marco Sau four minutes from time.
Khouma Babacar scored minutes after coming off the bench to help Fiorentina to a 1-0 win over Bologna and leave it three points behind Milan.
Crotone won 2-1 at Chievo Verona to keep its faint hopes of avoiding relegation alive. It moved five points below 17th-placed Empoli and safety.