NAPLES, Dec 2: Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain returned to haunt his former club as his early goal proved enough to earn Juventus a 1-0 win at Napoli that leaves the Serie A title race wide open.
Higuain, who swapped Naples for Turin in July 2016, was passed fit to play despite undergoing surgery on his left hand on Monday. After Pepe Reina saved an early shot from a tight angle, Higuain latched on to compatriot Paulo Dybala�s through ball in the 12th minute and kept his composure to slot the ball inside the near post.
His appearance at his former stomping ground, the San Paolo Stadium, was greeted with jeers by the home crowd.
But undeterred the 29-year-old, who left Napoli in 2016 for Turin in a 90 million-euro ($106 million) deal, scored the only goal after 12 minutes.
�Higuain is a phenomenon in these situations,� said Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri. �They have 90 million less, but three points more.�
Juventus move second just one point behind Napoli after 15 games, and ahead of Inter Milan � now the only unbeaten team � who can claim the championship lead on Sunday when they host Chievo.
It was the first win for Juventus in Naples in nearly three years, but captain Gianluigi Buffon warned the Turin side from getting too euphoric.
�Winning in Naples isn�t easy but we must not get too excited, even if I have to say we were very good,� Buffon told Mediaset Premium.
�While there is a certain satisfaction, we know that we are second and risk being third.
�Higuain has been in astounding form for months, it would have been a shame to lose him for such a game. The fact that he gave us a hand tonight is a great sign.�
Massimiliano Allegri conceded that Higuain had been raring to start with Mario Mandzukic ruled out.
The fired-up Argentine had looked set to score after just four minutes when he picked up a Douglas Costa cross but his close-range effort was kept out by Pepe Reina.
But less than ten minutes later the Turin giants got their noses ahead when Paulo Dybala used a Costa run to draw away defenders with his sliding cross for Higuain beating Reina.
Slovak Marek Hamsik looked as if it could be his night to equal Diego Maradona�s Napoli goalscoring record, but Buffon got his fingers to his long-range strike.
Dries Mertens also had a shot charged down, while 39-year-old Buffon saved a curling Lorenzo Insigne shot. � Agencies