Fri, Apr 07, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Higuain silences Napoli fans as Juve make final

AP, NAPLES, Italy

Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus, left, scores against SSC Napoli in their Coppa Italia semi-final second leg at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Gonzalo Higuain on Wednesday silenced the SSC Napoli fans with two goals as Juventus reached their third successive Coppa Italia final.

Marek Hamsik, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli a 3-2 win in the return leg of the semi-final, but Juventus progressed 5-4 on aggregate and face Lazio in the final, which is scheduled for June 2.

“We didn’t manage to see out the job, even if we won 3-2 against a great team,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “There’s a bit of bitterness for those 20 seconds in Turin, two instances in which we weren’t lucky and which changed the situation, but the impression is that, bit by bit, we’re getting closer and at least we have the satisfaction of having put them in difficulty. In a one-off match, we can beat them.”

Higuain’s every touch was greeted with whistles and jeers by his former fans, as it was in Sunday’s 1-1 draw between the two sides in Serie A.

“We know that Higuain is a great striker and we are happy for him,” Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli said. “What’s important is that he scores. It’s normal that in football everyone talks about Juventus all the time, we remain focused, we’re having a great season.”

Juventus, who lead Serie A by six points, are on course for a third consecutive league and cup double. They are also in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona.

Higuain was largely anonymous on Sunday, but with his team leading 3-1 after the first leg he fired Juve into the lead with a precise shot into the bottom corner in the 32nd minute.

Napoli leveled in the 53rd minute. Insigne found Arkadiusz Milik in the penalty area and a rebound fell to Hamsik, who fired into the net.

However, Higuain restored Juve’s lead five minutes later after he was left unmarked to smash Juan Cuadrado’s cross into the back of the net.

Milik was replaced by Mertens on the hour and the Belgium international scored after just 11 seconds following a horrible mistake by Juve reserve goalkeeper Neto, who failed to control a throw-in.

Napoli took the lead in the 67th minute when Jose Callejon pulled the ball back for Insigne to slot into the bottom corner.

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