Khedira hits winner as Juventus beat Lazio

Milan (AFP) – Sami Khedira hit a second-half winner as champions Juventus made it two wins from two at the start of the new Serie A season with a 1-0 victory away to Lazio on Saturday.

Juventus, who started their title defence with a 2-1 win over Fiorentina last week, were kept on a tight rein by Simone Inzaghi’s hosts throughout a first half of few chances at the Stadio Olimpico.

But less than a minute after record summer signing Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to replace Mario Mandzukic midway through the second period, Germany midfielder Khedira was set up by Paulo Dybala and beat Federico Marchetti at the ‘keeper’s far post.

With Higuain still lacking fitness, the Argentine striker started on the bench for the second consecutive week, just as coach Massimiliano Allegri had said he would on the eve of the game.

In a quiet first half Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was forced out to parry with both hands to block Felipe Anderson’s inswinging cross, with an alert Mehdi Benatia clearing the danger as Ciro Immobile lurked at the far post.

Marchetti got a first sniff of danger when he was forced to rush to his near post after Kwadwo Asamoah’s speculative first-time effort came close to sneaking into the top-right corner.

The Lazio ‘keeper was alerted again just before the hour when Mandzukic latched on to Dani Alves’s cross-field ball to hit a half-volley.

Mandzukic should have done better with that effort and Juve were left further frustrated when Dybala picked up the rebound only to fire his low angled shot a yard wide.

Juve were building momentum and spurned a great chance only minutes later, Dybala’s slick backheel setting up a surprised Khedira for an angled strike that crept just wide as Mandzukic looked on.

It was enough for Allegri to tell Higuain to come off the bench, the Argentine replacing Mandzukic with 25 minutes to play, but only after Immobile’s chip flew across the Juve goalmouth, with no takers.

The effect was immediate, but unlike last week — when Higuain came off the bench to hit the winner with his maiden goal for his new club — the spotlight fell on Khedira.

The German held off his marker to collect Dybala’s smart chip, turned inside and beat Marchetti at his far post with a crisp, angled shot.

Higuain celebrated like he had scored himself, but with later attempts that came to nothing the 28-year-old showed he is still lacking the zip that helped him to a record 36 goals in Serie A for Napoli last season.

Napoli host AC Milan later on Saturday.

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