NEWS
Wednesday December 7 2016
CL: Higuain breaks Juve drought

Gonzalo Higuain broke his goal drought with Daniele Rugani as Juventus beat Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 to win their Champions League group.

See how the evening unfolded on the Liveblog.

The Bianconeri were already qualified for the Round of 16, but needed a victory to be sure of the top spot. Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli, Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves were injured, while Gigi Buffon was among those rested – his first Champions League bench since December 10, 2008. Goalkeeper Norberto Neto was given his Champions League debut. Dinamo were still looking for their first goal, let alone point, of the group phase, but missed Jonas, Davor Lovren, Domagoj Antolic, Marko Leskovic and Gonçalo Santos.

It was almost a sensational opening goal within five minutes, as Mario Mandzukic and Miralem Pjanic flicked it on for Gonzalo Higuain, whose finish was parried from point-blank range by the goalkeeper’s legs.

Mandzukic sent Higuain running with a through ball, but Sigali got a decisive toe to prod it back towards his goalkeeper.

The Croatian striker was on stunning form and sent a defender to ground with a dummy before crossing, but Pjanic put his free header straight into the arms of Dominik Livakovic.

Livakovic then fumbled a corner, but Gordon Schildenfeld was on the line to hoof the loose ball clear. Junior Fernandes scuffed a weak effort towards Neto and the deflected Ante Coric shot was also smothered.

Pjanic had one of his trademark free kicks curled towards the near top corner, but Livakovic flew to palm it round the post. The young goalkeeper was shaky though when spilling a Mandzukic angled drive just past Higuain.

The deadlock was finally broken when Mario Lemina fought his way through a crowd of defenders and the ball fell to Higuain just inside the box, who put his right foot through it with such power that Livakovic had no chance. It was Pipita’s first goal after a seven-game drought in all competition.

Lemina had a shot deflected just wide of the near post on a Cuadrado assist and on the resulting Pjanic corner, Daniele Rugani jumped relatively undisturbed to nod in Juve’s second from six yards. The centre-back had already scored against Atalanta at the weekend, but this was his first Champions League goal at the third appearance.

Paulo Dybala made his comeback after over a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury and seemed to be in fine fettle, immediately shooting into the arms of the goalkeeper and seeing another strike deflected over the bar.

This was the first Juventus Champions League home victory since November 2015 against Manchester City. Dinamo Zagreb made history as only the second side to end the group phase without a goal or a point, after Maccabi Haifa in 2009-10.

Juventus 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb

Higuain 52 (J), Rugani 73 (J)

Juventus: Neto; Rugani, Benatia, Evra; Cuadrado, Lemina, Marchisio (Sturaro 74), Asamoah; Pjanic (Dybala 80); Higuain, Mandzukic (Hernanes 85)

Dinamo Zagreb: Livakovic; Situm, Sigali, Schildenfeld, Pivaric; Moro (Matel 85), Knezevic, Gojak (Fiolic 57); Soudani (Stojanovic 74), Coric, Fernandes

Ref: Taylor (ENG)

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