The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Italian Serie A: New-look Milan beat Brescia; Juventus overcome Napoli in 7-goal thriller

Associated Press Saturday, 31 August 2019, 20:26 Last update: about 2 months ago

Gonzalo Higuain called Juventus' 4-3 win over his former club Napoli a "roller coaster" and that's certainly what Saturday's Serie A match turned out to be.

Napoli had fought back from 3-0 down thanks to goals from three of its new signings but Kalidou Koulibaly's attempted clearance looped into his own net in stoppage time to hand the Bianconeri the win against one of their main title rivals.

Juventus appeared to be cruising to an impressive victory after goals from debutant Danilo, Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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"It was a roller coaster," Higuain said. "They scored two quick goals, that shouldn't happen. We dropped out the game and they equalized but at the end we won.

"It's a very important victory, we have to improve things but we gave our all on the field and in the end we were rewarded."

The defeat will hurt Napoli even more as it was orchestrated by its former coach.

New Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri was at the stadium but not on the bench as he recovers from pneumonia. Napoli fans have labeled him a traitor for taking over their bitter rival after making his name in Naples.

"We didn't play well at all in the first hour," Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "The match could have finished 3-3 and it wouldn't have changed the judgment on Napoli's performance, which is negative.

"I would have been disappointed even if we had drawn. I would have made the same observations."

Danilo signed from Manchester City earlier this month and he had an immediate impact 26 seconds after coming on for the injured Mattia De Sciglio, giving Juventus a 16th-minute lead following a rapid counterattack from Douglas Costa.

Juventus doubled its tally three minutes later. Higuain received the ball with his back to goal, swiveled to beat Koulibaly and fired into the top right corner.

Ronaldo netted his first league goal of the season shortly after the hour mark, slotting home after another assist from Douglas Costa.

Napoli got one back in the 66th as former Roma defender Kostas Manolas headed in a free kick for his first goal for his new club and debutant Hirving Lozano further reduced the deficit less than three minutes later when he beat Matthijs de Ligt to Piotr Zielinski's cross.

The 20-year-old De Ligt, who became the most expensive defender in Serie A history when he completed a 75 million euro ($85 million) transfer from Ajax last month, had been handed his debut in place of injured Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini.

De Ligt was also was at fault for Napoli's equalizer as he allowed Giovanni Di Lorenzo to get in front of him and bundle in Zielinski's cross.

However, there was still another twist. There appeared to be no danger when a Juventus free kick was floated into the area, especially with Koulibaly in lots of space to make the clearance, but he shinned it into the top corner of his own net.

 

RINGING THE CHANGES

AC Milan coach Marco Giampaolo rang the changes and they paid off as the Rossoneri beat newly promoted Brescia 1-0.

Giampaolo had lost his first match in charge last week, with Milan not even having a shot on target in a 1-0 defeat at Udinese. He responded by dropping Lucas Paqueta, Fabio Borini and — most surprisingly — Krzysztof Piatek to the bench.

It took less than 12 minutes for the new-look Milan to break the deadlock as Hakan Calhanoglu headed in Suso's cross from the right.

Piatek was brought on in the second half and being dropped appeared to have had a positive effect on him as the Poland forward went close on several occasions.

Brescia goalkeeper Jesse Joronen pulled off a brilliant save to deny Piatek from point-blank range late on and fingertipped another shot from him out for a corner. From that, a Piatek effort did squeeze through his gloves but Joronen reached back to clear the ball off the line.

Fellow substitute Paqueta also hit the post when sent through by Piatek.

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