Higuain nets 2 as Juventus reaches Italian Cup final
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 06, 2017 11:20 AM
(Alessandro Di Marco/ANSA via AP)
NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Gonzalo Higuain silenced the Napoli fans with two goals on Wednesday as Juventus reached its third successive Italian Cup final.
Marek Hamsik, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Inisgne gave Napoli a 3-2 win in the return leg of their Italian Cup semifinal. But Juventus progressed 5-4 on aggregate and will face Lazio in the final, which is scheduled for June 2.
"We didn't manage to see out the job, even if we won 3-2 against a great team," Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. "There's a bit of bitterness for those 20 seconds in Turin, two instances in which we weren't lucky and which changed the situation.
"But the impression is that, bit by bit, we're getting closer and at least we have the satisfaction of having put them in difficulty. In a one-off match, we can beat them."
Higuain's every touch was greeted with whistles and jeers by his former fans, as it was in Sunday's 1-1 draw in Serie A between the two sides.
The Argentina forward is now despised by Napoli fans following 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.
"We know that Higuain is a great striker and we are happy for him," Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli said. "What's important is that he scores. It's normal that in football everyone talks about Juventus all the time, we remain focused, we're having a great season."
Juventus, which leads Serie A by six points, is on course for a third consecutive league and cup double. It is also through to the quarterfinal of the Champions League, where it faces Barcelona.
Higuain was largely anonymous on Sunday. But with his team leading 3-1 after the first leg of the Cup, he fired Juventus into the lead on the night with a precise 20-meter (yard) shot into the bottom left corner in the 32nd minute.
Moments earlier, Tomas Rincon had blasted over the bar undisturbed, failing to take advantage of a woeful backpass by Napoli defender Vlad Chiriches.
Napoli had its chances and it leveled in the 53rd. Insigne found Arkadiusz Milik in the area and a rebound fell to Hamsik, who curled the ball into the right side of the net.
However, Higuain restored Juve's lead five minutes later after he was left unmarked to smash Juan Cuadrado's cross into the back of the net from the center of the area.
Milik was replaced by Mertens on the hour and the Belgium international scored after just 11 seconds following a horrible mistake by Juventus reserve goalkeeper Neto, who failed to control a throw-in.
And Napoli took the lead for the first time in the match in the 67th when Jose Callejon dribbled into the right side of the area and pulled the ball back for Insigne to slot into the bottom right corner.
Neto almost gifted Napoli another goal 10 minutes later as he slipped when he attempted to clear the ball and it came off Napoli forward Leonardo Pavoletti but it rolled wide.