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Shadow of VAR mars Juve’s eventful win over Fiorentina

Saint-Etienne scrap out 2-2 draw against Marseille

Image Credit: AFP
Juventus’ forward, Gonzalo Higuain (right) scores during the Serie A match against Fiorentina at the Atemio Franchi stadium on Friday.
Gulf News

Florence, Italy: Federico Bernardeschi and Gonzalo Higuain scored as Juventus went top of Serie A on Friday in a 2-0 win at Fiorentina overshadowed by a video assistant referee (VAR) fiasco.

A decision to award a penalty to Fiorentina after 21 minutes when Juventus’s Giorgio Chiellini’s arm blocked a Marco Benassi cross was subsequently overturned after consultation with VAR.

And after a three-minute wait referee Marco Guida instead decided to award the visitors a free-kick for a supposed Benassi offside in the run-up.

Emotions were already running high after the break when Italian midfielder Bernardeschi, who left the Tuscany side for Turin last summer, scored on his return to the Artemio Franchi Stadium for the first time as a Juventus player.

The 23-year-old curled in a free-kick after 56 minutes for his fourth goal in six Serie A games started for Juventus to break the deadlock. Bernardeschi was later substituted off to the whistles of the crowd.

Higuain — the scorer of a hat-trick last weekend — sealed the win four minutes from time with his 14th Serie A goal this season and 50th for Juventus.

It was an important win for champions Juventus who now have 62 points from 24 games — two points ahead of Napoli — who can reclaim top spot when they host Lazio on Saturday.

The first half had delivered little in the way of action as Stefano Pioli’s team made life difficult for the visitors.

Gil Dias broke clear down the right and hit the post as the tried to beat Gianluigi Buffon who was making his 500th Serie A appearance in goal.

Despite going a goal down, Fiorentina did not give up with the evergreen Buffon, 40, denying Cyril Thereau from close range before Higuain closed down the match after 86 minutes.

In Ligue 1, a last-minute fingertip save deprived Florian Thauvin a double and Marseille the three points as Saint-Etienne fought for a 2-2 Ligue 1 draw on Friday with a goalkeeping gaff from the visitors the key moment in the match.

The result means Paris Saint Germain are 10 points clear ahead of their trip to Toulouse Saturday and free to concentrate on a Champions League clash with Real Madrid in midweek.

The snow was relentless in central France but over 30,000 home fans never stopped singing as their resurgent side made it seven points from nine.

Thauvin buried a cracking left-footed volley from a deep cross right in the bottom corner of Stephane Ruffier’s goal on four minutes after his marker had slipped in the snow.

But Kevin Monnet-Paquet then held his nerve to slot a careful shot past OM stopper Steve Mandanda and a back-tracking Luiz Gustavo on nine minutes to make it 1-1.

Ruffier was again key as he raced out of his goal with Valere Germain bearing down on him and belted the ball to safety when a goal looked more likely.

But Marseille again took the lead on 20 minutes when Morgan Sanson’s powerfully shot found the back of the net.

The game turned as Marseille ‘keeper Steve Mandanda injured himself with a goal-kick, limping off clutching his thigh.

An absolute howler from reserve ‘keeper Yohann Pele allowing the hosts back in as he missed a deep cross before substitute Robert Beric chested the ball home on the line on 74 minutes.

 

Results(Friday’s matches)

Serie A

Fiorentina 0 Juventus 2

Ligue 1

Saint-Etienne 2 Marseille 2

Bundesliga

RB Leipzig 2 Augsburg 0

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