15.01.2017 23:11 - in: Match report S

    Juve fall to Fiorentina reverse

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    Goals from Nikola Kalinic and Federico Chiesa help Fiorentina to a 2-1 win over Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain’s strike unable to salvage anything on the night

    Gonzalo Higuain’s sixth goal in four Serie A matches was ultimately not enough for Juventus to avoid falling to a 2-1 reverse to Fiorentina on Sunday night.

    Strikes from Nikola Kalinic and Federico Chiesa saw the hosts lead 2-0 after 54 minutes before Higuain pulled one back shortly before the hour-mark, but the Bianconeri were unable to complete a potential comeback and ultimately suffered their fourth defeat of the season on a disappointing night in Florence.

    Massimiliano Allegri’s men had looked comfortable during the first five minutes as Paulo Dybala and Higuain, the latter eventually flagged offside, got away shots from the edge of the box, both of which were blocked.

    That bright beginning however was short-lived as Fiorentina began to impose themselves, Matias Vecino and lively right winger Chiesa both testing Gianluigi Buffon with menacing shots from inside the area. In the 10th minute, Uruguayan midfielder Vecino even struck the post as Paulo Sousa’s men had their tails well and truly up.

    If the hosts were enjoying the lions’ share of possession (65 per cent in the opening half-hour), the visitors responded with a couple of counter-attacks which almost reaped immediate rewards when Alex Sandro collected the ball on the edge of the box and flicked it over a defender before volleying hard and low, but unfortunately straight down the throat of Viola keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

    Fiorentina had taken heart from their strong start to the match and they continued to take the game to the champions with plenty of proactive attacking play, which paid off with a breakthrough goal in the 37th minute.

    Federico Bernardeschi threaded the ball into Kalinic's path, the Croatian sliding a shot expertly past Buffon from an acute angle, this his third strike in his last three matches against Juventus.

    The Bianconeri might have drawn level moments before the break when Higuain’s goalbound volley struck the thigh of Maxi Olivera, but the Viola were good value for their 1-0 lead, leaving their visitors with plenty to ponder for the second period.

    The hosts would start the stronger of the two sides after the interval too, almost doubling their advantage first through Bernardeschi, who broke into the box but lost the ball just before he could pull the trigger, and then Kalinic, whose close-range effort required a smart block from Buffon.

    Their next chance, on 54 minutes, would end up in the back of the net when Chiesa got the slightest of touches on Milan Badelj’s lofted ball forwards, leaving Juve with a steep, uphill battle to get anything from the evening.

    Just four minutes later, however, Higuain breathed life back into the contest, prodding home from close range into an open net.

    The goal sparked a period of Bianconeri dominance, as they pushed purposefuly for an equaliser, Massimiliano Allegri making two attack-minded substitutions with Marko Pjaca and Mario Mandzukic coming on for Stefano Sturaro and Andrea Barzagli respectively.

    For all of their pressure around the final third, however, the visitors were unable to make the most of the opportunities they carved out, Higuain and Chiellini unable to turn home as the ball bounced agonisingly close to the Viola goalline.

    Then on 89 minutes, Dybala spurned a golden chance to level the scores, firing over the bar from a fine position after strong hold up play from Mandzukic.

    Viola substitute Josip Ilicic might have put the win beyond all doubt in injury time when one on one with Buffon, but by then time had run out for the visitors to get anything from a game they will look to forget in some hurry before regrouping ahead of next Sunday’s meeting with Lazio at Juventus Stadium.

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