Gonzalo Higuain scored a brace to bring his tally of Serie A goals to 101 as Juventus went top of the Italian league with a 2-0 win that plunged AC Milan further into crisis on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Higuain opened after 23 minutes in front of a capacity partisan Milan crowd at the San Siro Stadium and grabbed a second on 63 minutes for the six-time reigning champions.
It put Juventus provisionally top with 28 points from 11 games just ahead of Napoli — who host Sassuolo on Sunday — on goal difference.
“Playing at the San Siro is never easy and Milan are historic rivals. In these fixtures, form is wiped out,” coach Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Sport Italia.
“Gonzalo is really helping the team play better but he must believe in himself much more, because he has extraordinary potential.
“As always there’s an issue of mentality. Every now and then he sits back, which is not good for him or for us. He must demand more from himself.”
For Higuain the century of goals was revenge for his disallowed effort during the week.
“When they disallowed the goal against SPAL, we said it was my destiny to score the 100th at San Siro! Now it’s 101, not bad,” said the Argentine.
However, the future looks increasingly bleak for Milan coach Vincenzo Montella whose side are eighth, 12 points behind the leaders, and far below their objective of Champions League football next season.
“We were a match for Juventus, the difference was Higuain who came up with two goals,” insisted Montella whose side had ended their run of three consecutive defeats at Chievo midweek.
Milan were playing without captain Leonardo Bonucci who was completing his two-match ban against his former club.
But after early pressure from the hosts, Juventus got into their stride with Paulo Dybala weaving his way through for Higuain to blast in his 100th league goal.
– ‘Focus Lisbon’ –
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini risked an own goal as he nodded just wide when anticipating Nikola Kalinic, whose got the best chance for Milan just before the first half whistle but his effort bounced off the crossbar.
Higuain’s second again came following excellent teamwork with Ghanian Kwadwo Asamoah crossing for Dybala who let the ball pass between his legs for Higuain to trick Ricardo Rodriguez and rifle past Gianluigi Donnarumma for his sixth league goal of the season.
“Milan perhaps started stronger, but we’re a great team and when we play like that it’s difficult to beat us,” said Higuain.
“The coach said games never end at San Siro and that is absolutely true. We stayed focussed for the full 90 minutes and made only one mistake, when they hit the bar.
“Now we have to recuperate and focus on the Champions League in (Sporting) Lisbon.”
Leaders Napoli can reclaim top spot when they travel north to Sassuolo, who are just above the relegation zone, on Sunday, as Inter Milan two points behind the leaders travel to lowly Verona on Monday.
AS Roma host Bologna later Saturday without Dutch international Rick Karsdorp, who picked up a ruptured cruciate ligament during the week.