08.02.2017 20:12 - in: Match report S

    Juve go seven points clear in Crotone

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    Second-half goals by Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain see Juventus win 2-0 away to Crotone

    The Bianconeri went seven points clear at the top of the Serie A table after seeing off Crotone 2-0 on Wednesday evening at the Stadio Ezio Scida in Calabria.

    After making many, but failing to take any of their opportunities in an otherwise strong first-half showing, Massimiliano Allegri’s men eventually opened the scoring on the hour-mark through Mario Mandzukic, before Gonzalo Higuain added a second 14 minutes later to increase his tally to 16 league goals for the season.

    Tonight’s was the fifth straight match in which Allegri set up his side in the 4-2-3-1 formation that has only yielded wins so far, and the visitors were linking up brilliantly for the main part of the first period, carving out a number of noteworthy chances in the process.

    First Higuain dragged wide from the edge of the box after taking Leonardo Bonucci’s ball neatly into his stride, and Pipita would show further flashy footwork moments later to flick exquisitely into the path of Paulo Dybala, whose powerful, low drive was well blocked by Rossoblù keeper Alex Cordaz.

    A constant menace before the break, Higuain would help himself to a couple more shots, poking wide of the mark from Dybala’s clever pass before catching his volley cleanly but unfortunately down the throat of Cordaz.

    As the Bianconeri kept knocking on the door for a breakthrough, they came closest right on 45 minutes when Dybala’s chip looped over Cordaz’ head, but Gianmarco Ferrari was in position to clear off the goal-line.

    After enjoying a bright first half on his maiden start for Juventus, Marko Pjaca was a busy presence again after the interval, capping off a mesmerising dribble with a ball into Mandzukic’s feet, but his compatriot was flagged for offside.

    Within just five minutes however, Mandzukic would be celebrating the opener, slotting home from the acutest of angles after Cordaz had parried Kwadwo Asamoah’s header into the Croatian striker’s path.

    And with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, the visitors doubled their lead when Tomas Rincon threaded a fine ball through the defence to Pipita, who rounded the keeper and tapped into the net for his fifth goal in his last four Serie A away games.

    With the Bianconeri in control and cruising at this point, Miralem Pjanic very nearly made it 3-0 in the 85th minute when he hooked Andrea Barzagli’s right-wing cross on to the bar with Cordaz beaten all ends up.

    While a more comprehensive scoreline would not have looked out of place after another pleasing performance, what matters most is that Allegri and company return to Turin with all three points ahead of this Sunday’s trip to Sardinia where they take on Cagliari (20.45 CET kick-off).

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