06 July 2017
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 as Juve took another small step closer to the Scudetto title.
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.
The evening’s first real openings were all carved out by the more enterprising hosts. 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.
It was in the 43rd minute that Juve created 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 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 Stephan 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. The match-winner 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.
Despite struggling to reach the heights of previous weeks, the Juventus Stadium faithful could at least head home with a valuable point in their pockets and another Pipita strike against their rivals to savour.
MAIN MATCH STATS
WHAT THEY SAID
BEST MATCH SNAPS
THE LEAGUE TABLE