06.05.2017 23:09 - in: Match report S

    Higuain salvages derby point

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    Gonzalo Higuain strikes at the death to earn a share of the spoils in the Derby della Mole at Juventus Stadium

    Gonzalo Higuain’s last-gasp equaliser salvaged a point to cancel out Adem Ljajic’s precise free-kick and earn a share of the spoils in the Derby della Mole on Saturday night as Juventus took another small step closer to the Scudetto title.

    Despite struggling to reach the heights of previous weeks – the Bianconeri failing to convert a host of chances throughout the evening – the Juventus Stadium faithful could at least head home with a valuable point in their pockets and another Higuain goal against their rivals to savour.

    The draw brings an end to the club’s record run of 33 consecutive home league victories but does little to change the picture of the title race; Juve now sit seven points clear of Napoli with Roma set to visit Milan on Sunday night.

    The Turin derby has been a tightly contested and keenly fought affair in recent seasons and after a gruelling 90 minutes here, the 144th edition of the fixture was no different.

    Early endeavour from the hosts saw the game settle into a rhythm that prevailed throughout the game; the Old Lady dominating possession and territory, il Toro threatening sporadically on the counter-attack.

    Unsurprisingly then, the evening’s first real openings were all carved out by the more enterprising home side. A near miss for Sami Khedira from a Paulo Dybala corner kicked off a series of presentable opportunities for Juve.

    The best of them fell to Leonardo Bonucci who volleyed over the bar after Medhi Benatia’s header had struck the woodwork and goalkeeper Joe Hart had smartly denied Stefano Sturaro on the rebound.

    Juan Cuadrado's right-wing cross was flicked narrowly wide of the top corner by a combination of Mario Mandzukic and defender Luca Rossettini moments later as cracks began to show in the Torino defence.

    That said, it wasn’t until the 43rd minute that Juve managed to slice it in two and create their first genuine scoring opportunity from open play. Dybala’s exquisite drive from deep and one-two with Mario Mandzukic sent him scurrying into the box only for the Argentine to be denied by a spread-eagled Hart.

    The simmering tension would be replaced by full-blown drama within 15 minutes of the restart. Ljajic sent an inch-perfect free-kick into the top corner via the crossbar to put the away side in front against the run of play only for midfielder Afriyie Acquah to be sent off for a second bookable offence.

    A goal down and a man up, the Bianconeri redoubled their attacking efforts but found a rejuvenated Torino thrown up before them.

    Massimiliano Allegri introduced Higuain and Miralem Pjanic from the bench to add much-needed impetus to the Bianconeri attack as Hart’s goal came under siege for the closing quarter of the action.

    Khedira scooped wildly off target when well-placed, Bonucci poked straight at Hart from Lichtsteiner’s skidding delivery and Kwadwo Asamoah lashed into the Curva Nord from Mandzukic’s lay-off as time ticked towards the final whistle.

    Enter Higuain. A match-winner both in midweek and in the teams’ previous meeting in December, Juve’s number 9 produced the goods once more one minute into stoppage time to snatch a draw, arrowing with unerring accuracy into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.

    One point gained or two points lost? We will soon find out. For now, it is time to turn attentions back to the Champions League with Monaco lying in wait on Tuesday night.

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