Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring their second goal with Alex Sandro and Blaise Matuidi.(REUTERS)
Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain celebrates scoring their second goal with Alex Sandro and Blaise Matuidi.(REUTERS)

Koulibaly own goal hands Juventus victory over Napoli in seven-goal thriller

Ironically it was Koulibaly whose injury-time winner had given Napoli there only victory in the Allianz Stadium under former coach Sarri in April 2018.
Turin | By AFP
UPDATED ON SEP 01, 2019 03:30 AM IST

Kalidou Koulibaly handed Juventus a dramatic win on Saturday with a last-gasp own goal that consigned Napoli to a painful 4-3 Serie A defeat after his side had battled back from three goals down to level the scores.

The Senegal international shanked in Paulo Dybala’s free-kick under no pressure in the second minute of stoppage time to hand Juve the three points in Turin and put Maurizio Sarri’s side top with a maximum six points, leaving Napoli with nothing to show for their Herculean efforts.

“It was a rollercoaster. We lost control of the game and got distracted, so they managed to equalise, but fortunately in the end we still won,” said Gonzalo Higuain, who spun Koulibaly before slamming home Juve’s superb second.

“It is a very important victory. We have a lot to improve, but we gave our all on the pitch and were eventually rewarded.”

Koulibaly’s blunder undid all of Napoli’s good work in fighting back from the dead with less than half-an-hour left, with goals from Danilo just 20 seconds after he came on as a substitute, Higuain -- back at Juventus after loan spells at AC Milan and Chelsea -- and Cristiano Ronaldo giving the reigning champions what looked like an unassailable lead.

However two goals in as many minutes from Kostas Manolas and Hirving Lozano shortly after Ronaldo had made it three brought Napoli back into the game, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo sent the away fans wild with a close-range finish to set up a tense final nine minutes.

But with at least point seemingly in the bag, Koulibaly made it a nightmare end for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, who finished on the wrong end of a 4-3 scoreline after winning by the same margin at Fiorentina last weekend.

The champions made light of the absence of captain Giorgio Chiellini, out with anterior cruciate ligament knee injury, and Sarri, who is battling pneumonia and was not on the bench.

Ironically it was Koulibaly whose injury-time winner had given Napoli there only victory in the Allianz Stadium under former coach Sarri in April 2018.

- AC Milan scrape opening win -

Earlier Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu claimed AC Milan’s first three points of the season after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over newly-promoted Brescia.

The 25-year-old connected with a cross from Spanish winger Suso to head in after 12 minutes after Milan had lost their opener to Udinese last weekend.

Poland forward Krzysztof Piatek, third in Serie A’s scorers chart last season with 22 goals, Lucas Paqueta and Fabio Borini all started on the bench for the side who have been banned from this season’s Europa League for financial fair play rules.

Algeria midfielder Ismael Bennacer got his first start and good work by Suso ensured Milan gained an early advantage.

Dimitri Bisoli missed a chance to equalise, sending a shot over the bar with Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma denying Ricardo Rodriguez’s deflected shot before the break.

Piatek come on for the last half an hour in place of Andre Silva, with Paqueta replacing Calhanoglu five minutes later.

The hosts came to life in the final 10 minutes with Piatek missing a chance to get a second goal for Milan, then setting up Paqueta who also drew a blank.

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