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Monday, July 16, 2018

Gonzalo Higuain proves catalyst in Juventus’ win against Olympiakos

Gonzalo Higuain entered the fray on the hour mark and fired home the rebound from his own shot nine minutes later to give Juventus the lead.

By: Reuters | Updated: September 28, 2017 3:06:51 am
juventus, olympiakos, olympiakos vs juventus, champions league, ucl, football news, sports news, indian express Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring for Juventus. (Source: Reuters)

Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to open the scoring for Juventus and Mario Mandzukic added a second as the Italian champions beat Olympiakos 2-0 in Turin in their Champions League Group D clash on Wednesday.

With Juve dominating possession but failing to create many goal-scoring opportunities, Argentine striker Higuain entered the fray on the hour mark and fired home the rebound from his own shot nine minutes later to give Juve the lead.

With Olympiakos seeking to score on the counter, Juventus spent much of the game bombarding the Greek side’s penalty area with crosses, free kicks and corners and Mandzukic went close with a trio of headers before scoring in the 80th minute.

Having lost their opening game 3-0 to Barcelona, the win puts Juventus back on track in third place in Group D on three points behind Sporting of Portugal on goal difference, while two defeats in their opening two games leave Olympiakos bottom.

Beaten 4-1 in the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff by Real Madrid, Juventus have now scored 13 times without conceding at home this season.

The Italian champions spent most of the opening 45 minutes camped in the Olympiakos half, but they rarely managed to threaten goalkeeper Silvio Proto.

The best Juventus chances of the first half came in the last 15 minutes, with Mandzukic and Stefan Sturaro both seeing headers steered to safety by Proto.

Proto also made a superb save from a Paolo Dybala shot and then watched as Bjorn Engels turned the ball onto his own post, but the defender reacted quickly to put the ball behind for a Juventus corner.

The Greek champions sat back and soaked up the pressure, content to break when they got the chance and looking dangerous when they did so.

No other side has managed to keep Juventus scoreless at home this season for as long as Olympiakos did, but the introduction of Higuain gave them an extra dimension in attack.

Higuain’s direct running caused the Olympiakos defence problems, and when the ball fell at his feet in the box he slotted it home at the second time of asking.

Once Higuain scored the Greeks lost their appetite for the battle and Mandzukic bundled the ball home as Olympiakos tried to clear a Dybala shot off the line to wrap up the three points for Massimo Allegri’s side.

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