Juventus 2-1 Fiorentina: Super sub Higuain nets winner on debut

Last term's Serie A top scorer marked his first appearance in Bianconeri colours with a decisive contribution, giving the hosts a winning start to their title defence.

Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to score the winner on his Juventus debut, as the Italian champions battled to a 2-1 victory over Fiorentina on Saturday..

The €90 million signing was left out of Massimiliano Allegri's starting XI alongside fellow arrival Miralem Pjanic as the Bianconeri opened their Serie A campaign.

Despite beginning without their big-name signings, Juventus seized the initiative late in the first half when Sami Khedira rose highest to nod home Giorgio Chiellini's cross.

Higuain was then introduced in the 66th minute, but his first appearance in Bianconeri colours did not begin as expected as Nikola Kalinic pulled Fiorentina level with a brilliant header - one of their first meaningful attempts on goal.

That only set up the stage for Higuain to make his decisive contribution, however, as the striker got on the end of a loose ball in the 75th minute to stab home to the joy of the home crowd.

With Higuain on the bench, Mario Mandzukic - who scored twice against Fiorentina last season - started up front and Dani Alves was the only off-season recruit in the hosts' line-up.

Juve enjoyed a typically authoritative start and they should have been ahead within four minutes when Ciprian Tatarusanu's rushed clearance fell kindly for Khedira, who wastefully lifted his effort onto the roof of the net.
Fiorentina were becoming increasingly suspect in defence and debutant Davide Astori was fortunate to survive a penalty appeal when a cross bounced against his left hand.
And it was little surprise when Juve made the breakthrough in the 37th minute.
Chiellini crossed brilliantly from the left and Khedira was clinical this time with a thumping header high past Tatarusanu.

Alex Sandro then squandered an opportunity to double the lead in the final minute of the half, blazing over after Mandzukic had superbly played him in.

Paulo Dybala stabbed a low effort straight at the goalkeeper shortly after the restart, but Juve's momentum slowed and Higuain was summoned from the bench.

The move did not pay immediate dividends, though, as Kalinic rose above Sandro from a Fiorentina corner to brilliantly nod low past Gianluigi Buffon.

However, Fiorentina's joy was short-lived. Khedira's initial effort was blocked, but Higuain was alert to pounce on the loose ball and poke home the winner from tight inside the six-yard box.

Mario Lemina was twice denied a third goal in the closing stages, but it mattered little for the Juve faithful who were left to celebrate their new hero.

Read 400 times Last modified on Sunday, 21 August 2016 10:38