Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Gonzalo Higuain hit his 19th Serie A brace and Miralem Pjanic added a last-gasp third as injury-depleted Juventus came from a goal down to end Torino’s hopes of derby glory with a 3-1 win on Sunday.
Juve’s 13th victory of the campaign kept the five-time champions on top and moved them seven points ahead of Roma and AC Milan before their clash in Rome on Monday.
Torino remain in seventh place but their fifth reverse of the campaign leaves Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men 14 points off the pace.
Mihajlovic had upped the stakes at a dramatic pre-match press conference attended by a 60-year-old fan and the club’s long-serving kit man at which he claimed the “whole of Torino” was set on beating their arch rivals.
But with only one win from the past 21 derbies — a 2-1 defeat of Juve in April 2015 that ended their 20-year wait for bragging rights — the pressure was all on Torino.
Juve were forced to deploy a makeshift defence in the continued absence of Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli but after seeing an Adem Ljajic drive blocked, Torino goalkeeper Joe Hart needed to act quickly to stop Mario Mandzukic turning in from close range after a wayward Sami Khedira effort.
Torino settled quickly and on the quarter hour stunned Massimiliano Allegri’s men with a well-worked opener.
Daniele Baselli kept the ball in play at the right touchline and delivered a cross for Andrea Belotti, who sidestepped Swiss defender Stephan Lichtsteiner to send a header past Gianluigi Buffon and into the far bottom corner.
Paulo Dybala started on the bench for champions Juve despite making his return from a six-week injury lay-off in a 2-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb in midweek, when Higuain broke a five-week goal drought.
Although Juve could have done with the diminutive playmaker’s creative skills, they were soon back level.
Higuain had seen little of the ball in the opening 25 minutes but the Argentine made no mistake just before the half hour when Mandzukic accidentally flicked Juan Cuadrado’s through ball off his heel.
It sent Higuain clear and he coolly chipped over Hart and into the bottom corner on 28 minutes.
Torino resumed in positive fashion, Iago Falque unleashing a bullet from the edge of the area that Mandzukic blocked.
But the hosts failed to make the most of several promising counter-attacks and were left dazzled by Dybala when he replaced Mandzukic with 20 minutes remaining.
Dybala sent Lichtsteiner down the right with a deft flick, only for the Swiss to blunder his pass for Higuain as he waited in the box.
Moments later Falque found Ljajic in space on the left and he curled a superb right-foot shot inches wide of Buffon’s far upright from outside the area.
Higuain broke free down the left but his shot was well over Hart’s crossbar, but the Argentine made amends when he held off 21-year-old defender Antonio Barreca to control a long ball and swivel to beat Hart with a powerful strike.
The Stadio Olimpico was stunned and could only gasp as Higuain saw another effort from exactly the same position blocked soon after.
Torino’s heads went down and when Dybala sent Higuain through into the box with a clever pass it took two quickfire saves from Hart before Pjanic fired the rebound in to wrap up the points.
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