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Napoli boss Sarri hails Higuain a "phenomenon" as Juventus edge Serie A win

Napoli boss Sarri hails Higuain a "phenomenon" as Juventus edge Serie A win
By PA Sport

01/12/2017 at 23:33Updated 02/12/2017 at 09:45

Gonzalo Higuain was hailed a "phenomenon" by his former coach after he showed what money can buy with the only goal in Juventus' 1-0 win against his old club Napoli.

The Argentinian left Naples in 2016 after Juve paid his 90million euro release clause and his 12th-minute strike handed the Azzurri their first Serie A defeat of the campaign.

Juventus closed to within a point of the leaders with victory and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri was left wondering what might have been had Higuain still played for his side.

"He is very good in those situations. Pipa (Higuain) was very cold," Sarri told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They have 90million less, but three points more because they have a phenomenon.

"The Neapolitans booed him but in this case I can not agree. Here he always gave his best, then that clause..."

Gonzalo Higuain jubelt gegen Neapel

Gonzalo Higuain jubelt gegen NeapelGetty Images

Sarri was disappointed the game did not have a more traditional feel, as the hosts did not wear their usual light blue jersey while Juventus' famous black-and-white stripes were not on show, either.

He added: "I was hoping to die before seeing a Napoli-Juventus game with yellow and grey jerseys. A real sadness."

Higuain had surgery on a broken bone in his left hand earlier this week and was a doubt for the game.

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri had little option, due to an injury to Mario Mandzukic, but said he had no problems with starting the Argentinian striker.

In quotes reported by Gazzetta, Allegri told Premium Sport: "Mandzukic is injured and I threw him in. He is an extraordinary player and he is in excellent condition, technically doing magic things."

Allegri praised his side's start to the game but highlighted room for improvement ahead of their Champions League trip to Olympiacos in midweek, where a victory will seal qualification to the knockout stages.

"For us, tonight was a good test," he said.

"The guys started well in the first half, playing well technically and creating scoring opportunities. In the second half Napoli dominated possession, but had few chances and against them you have to make a big defensive effort.

"In the first half we came out better from their first pressure, but in the second I'm less happy. We return to Turin with a good result, but Tuesday evening, another important match awaits us."

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after scoring against Fiorentina

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain celebrates after scoring against FiorentinaReuters

Despite Juve closing the gap to just a point, Allegri believes Napoli are still the team to beat in the title race.

He added: "Napoli remains the favourite for the Scudetto. They play great football and still have a point advantage.

"To get to the top it will be necessary to go beyond what others will do."

However, this is a view Sarri disagrees with.

He said: "Inter, Roma, Juve are all clearly stronger teams than us. Talk of Napoli as the favourite for the Scudetto is wrong."