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Higuain nets 100th Serie A goal as Juve bury Milan

Higuain nets 100th Serie A goal as  Juve bury Milan

MILAN: Gonzalo Higuain is once again a lean, mean, goal-scoring machine.

The Argentine scored twice, bringing his tally of Serie A goals to 101, to give Juventus a 2-0 win at AC Milan on Saturday, putting them provisionally level on points at the top of Serie A and plunging their big-spending opponents back into crisis.

Champions Juve joined Napoli on 28 points while Milan, who spent more than 200 million euros ($232 million) in the transfer market in the summer to try and revive their fortunes, were left languishing in eighth with 16.

AS Roma are four points behind Juve, in fifth, after stunning volley from Stephan El Shaarawy gave them their third straight 1-0 win, this time at home to midtable Bologna, in Saturday’s other game.

The capital side will have played a match less than most other teams when the weekend is over, as their fixture at Sampdoria in September was postponed because of bad weather.

Higuain, who netted 32 times last campaign, had a relatively quiet start to the season, scoring only twice in the first eight matches in all competitions. His confidence appeared to dip after being dropped by Argentina.

However, Higuain appears to have lost weight and is back to the form which persuaded Juve to spend an Italian record 90 million euros (then $99 million) to sign him from Napoli in 2016.

The 29-year-old opened after 23 minutes in front of a capacity 80,000 crowd at Milan’s San Siro Stadium and grabbed a second on 63 minutes for the six-time reigning champions.

Higuain also scored more than 100 in La Liga, for Real Madrid, and became only the second player to net a century in two of Europe’s top five leagues after Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

“I’ve always been the same player as before, I don’t listen to criticism nor praise,” said Higuain, who rejected the notion that his brace was the perfect response to his critics.

“I never respond to those who criticise me. I only want to help the team and these goals are for all those who have always believed in me, not for the others. We are strong, and when we play like this it’s difficult to beat us.”

Briefly boosted by a 4-1 win at Chievo on Wednesday, Milan have five wins, five defeats and one draw from their 11 games.

“The match was played on equal terms, the difference was made by Higuain who scored two outrageous goals,” said Milan coach Vincenzo Montella, whose position is likely to be the subject of more speculation.

“We created as many chances as them, including a number inside the area, but Juventus played well.”

Higuain ensured Juve had the last laugh in the latest showdown, which began with spectacular choreography by Milan fans before the game, mocking their opponent’s European record with a giant banner depicting a Halloween scene of seven gravestones, each bearing the year of one of Juve’s Champions League final defeats.

After early pressure from the hosts, Juve got into their stride with Paulo Dybala weaving his way through for Higuain who drilled his shot past Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Milan’s summer signing Nikola Kalinic got the best chance just before the break but Gianluigi Buffon dived to clear and his effort bounced off the crossbar.

Higuain’s second again came following excellent teamwork with Ghanian Kwadwo Asamoah crossing for Dybala who let the ball pass between his legs for Higuain to trick Ricardo Rodriguez and score from 20 metres with a low shot which went in off the foot the post.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2017

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