Juventus’ record winning streak at home was ended by 10-man Torino 1-1 in an enthralling Derby della Mole on Saturday. Adem Ljajic’s sublime 52nd-minute free kick looked to have given Torino a rare derby victory but Juventus escaped thanks to substitute Gonzalo Higuain’s stoppage-time strike.
Four minutes after Torino scored, midfielder Afriyie Acquah was sent off for a second booking. Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was so incensed that he aggressively approached the fourth official and referee and was dismissed as well.
“Just as I could see that he took the ball cleanly, the fourth official should have seen it too,” Mihajlovic said. “You don’t need a nuclear engineer to understand it wasn’t a foul. It was an unjustifiable mistake, even if I regret my reaction. But what should I have done? Give him a kiss?
“I asked the fourth official why he didn’t help the referee. What are they doing? They don’t even have the courage to talk. The mistake changed the match, that’s clear.”
Despite a man advantage, Juventus missed extending its league record to 34 successive home wins. But it was still on the brink of an unprecedented sixth successive Serie A title.
Juventus moved 10 points clear of Roma, which needs to at least draw at AC Milan on Sunday to avoid handing the Bianconeri the title. There are three rounds remaining and Roma hosts Juventus next weekend.
Torino had not won at Juventus since 1995, and it took a surprise lead seven minutes after the break when Ljajic curled a free kick into the top left corner.
Torino went down to 10 men when Acquah was shown a second yellow card for a sliding tackle on Mario Mandzukic, despite getting the ball. Acquah’s first booking was considered harsh, too, as video replays showed he did not elbow Dybala.
Juventus continued to waste chances, forcing coach Massimiliano Allegri to send on Higuain, whom he was resting for the Champions League semifinal against Monaco on Tuesday. Higuain rescued Juve by controlling Miralem Pjanic’s pass with one touch on the edge of the box and drilling into the bottom left corner.
NAPOLI 3, CAGLIARI 1
Dries Mertens marked his 30th birthday with two goals and an assist to help Napoli move into second in Serie A, two points above Roma.
“I’ve run out of adjectives for Dries,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “Since I’ve been here he’s played in every position and he’s done so in an extraordinary way.
“I’m also happy that he’s shaken off the label of a super sub. He’s starting matches and showing he was right to want to play more.”
Mertens took less than two minutes to open the scoring, getting in front of his marker to fire home Faouzi Ghoulam’s cross for Napoli’s 100th goal in all competitions.
Napoli dominated and had chances to take the lead, with delightful interplay between Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, and Jose Callejon.
Marek Hamsik almost scored an astonishing goal from near the halfway line as he spotted Cagliari goalkeeper Rafael off his line, but his cheeky lob landed on the roof of the net as the whole stadium applauded.
Mertens doubled his tally after the break, his 30th goal of the season, and turned provider with a through ball to Insigne, who controlled it as he turned and lifted it into the far side of the net.
Mertens and Insigne were given standing ovations when they were replaced in the final 15 minutes.
Substitute Diego Farias netted a consolation for Cagliari in stoppage time.