Gonzalo Higuain was an expendable at Real Madrid. But expendables can be deadly effective, Sylvester Stallone has shown us that.
Higuain, now plying his trade at Italy’s Napoli, just can’t stop scoring at the moment. The Argentine, on Sunday, scored his 24th goal in as many matches to help his team to a 1-0 victory. Unfortunately for Napoli, Juventus cannot stop winning. The Old Lady of Turin, who began the season with the worst start in their history, giving everyone else in Italy hope, has spectacularly turned it around. They are now steamrollering teams; on Monday they beat relegation-threatened Frosinone 2-0 to record their 14th straight victory.
Leicester City’s rise in the Premier League, and their demolition of Manchester City, may have refreshed English football, but the real contest for a league championship is happening south of England. Juventus appeared to be on the verge of moving level at the top when Juan Cuadrado broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute with the score still goalless in the Napoli-Carpi match.
Higuain then converted a penalty against 10-man Carpi moments later for his 24th goal in 24 league matches this season as Napoli went on to win 1-0. “It’s a source of pride for us to be above Juve and we’re happy to be able to play this kind of battle,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. “If we draw at the end of a difficult game, OK, but I would not sign beforehand for it. I want to go there to play. They will be stronger than us but we have to have the chutzpah to go to Turin and play football.”
There was a touching moment before the match as Napoli fans held up prints of Kalidou Koulibaly’s face in a show of support after the team’s defender was racially abused by Lazio fans in midweek. Napoli remained two points ahead of Juventus, with Inter Milan missing the chance to move third after a 3-3 draw at Hellas Verona.
“The lads were great and now we have a week to prepare the match against Napoli,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “But then there will still be another 13 matches left, the season is long. It will be a really lovely battle, a direct clash, but it will not decide the title.”
Watch Paulo Dybala’s delighful goal for Juventus:
The record in Serie A is Inter Milan’s 17-match run in 2006-07.
Roma narrowed the gap to the final Champions League spot with a 2-1 win against Sampdoria, moving a point behind Inter and two below Fiorentina. Samp almost snatched a last-minute point as Mattia Cassani hit the crossbar in stoppage time.
Elsewhere, AC Milan failed to make it three in a row as it was held 1-1 against Udinese.Sassuolo drew 2-2 against 10-man Palermo and Chievo Verona won 2-1 at Torino, while Atalanta and Empoli ended 0-0.
After matching its club record of seven consecutive victories against Lazio, Napoli’s team was looking to make history against Carpi. Napoli could have had a penalty in the first half for a clear tug on Jose Callejon’s shirt by Stefano Sabelli. Callejon was further upset early in the second half when he had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside.
It was Carpi’s turn to feel aggrieved in the 56th when Paolo Bianco was sent off for a second yellow card when it appeared to be more Cristian Zaccardo’s foul than his on Lorenzo Insigne. Zaccardo appeared to be telling the referee this as he and his teammates surrounded the official but Bianco was dismissed.However, the referee got it right when he awarded Napoli a penalty after Fabio Daprela hauled down Koulibaly. Higuain fired confidently into the bottom left, scoring for the sixth successive round.