Juventus clip Napoli 1-0
Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain punished his former club with an early goal in a 1-0 win at Serie A leader Napoli yesterday that tightened the title race.
Playing with a broken left hand that was operated on four days earlier, Higuain took a pass from Paulo Dybala and finished off a swift counterattack with an accurate shot inside the near post past charging goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Six-time defending champion Juventus moved ahead of Inter Milan into second place and within one point of Napoli, which was handed its first loss of the season.
Conceding a goal to Higuain was particularly painful for Napoli. Two seasons ago, the Argentina international scored 36 goals for Napoli to break a 66-year-old Serie A record. Then he transferred to Juventus for an Italian-record EU90 million (US$100 million) and he has now scored five goals in five matches against Napoli.
Earlier, fourth-place Roma beat 10-man Spal 3-1.
Inter can take the lead with a win over Chievo Verona tomorrow.
Juventus has won Serie A a record 33 times, while Napoli is aiming to win its first Italian league title since Diego Maradona led the southern club to its only two championships in 1987 and 1990.
Napoli has lost only three of its last 45 Serie A games but two of those have come against Juventus.
"We had a great approach to the match in terms of our mentality, willingness to suffer and solidness," said Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon, who had an outstanding match. "It's not easy to play every week play with this mentality. It requires an enormous amount of energy to be spent. But when the time comes to pull out something extra we're always able to."
Higuain was animated right from the pre-match warmups when he incited Napoli fans who were heckling him, waving his arms in encouragement.