Gonzalo Higuain jeered as first-placed Juventus draw in Napoli
Napoli 1 - 1 Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain jeered as first-placed Juventus draw in Napoli

Gonzalo Higuain failed to score on his long-awaited return to Napoli, where Serie A leaders Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw.

The Argentinian left Stadio San Paolo under a cloud in the summer, joining Napoli's title rivals Juve for €90 million on the back of a 36-goal season.

Higuain, who should be back in Naples again for a Coppa Italia semifinal showdown on Wednesday, was largely anonymous in the face of an extremely hostile reception from his former fan base.

Sami Khedira covered for Higuain's jitters by boosting Juve into a seventh-minute lead but Napoli were the better side throughout and managed to grab a deserved equaliser through Marek Hamsik on the hour mark.

The gap between the clubs remains 10 points, meaning Napoli stand little chance of catching the Bianconeri over the eight-game run-in. Only Roma retain an outside chance of denying Juve a sixth straight Scudetto.

Napoli poured forward and dominated from the first whistle and, come the break, it was hard to understand how they trailed their northern opponents.

Gianluigi Buffon had an early warning when Lorenzo Insigne crossed from deep to find Jose Callejon, but the veteran Juve goalkeeper smothered well.

From the ensuing counter-attack, Khedira scored a fabulous goal to give the champions the upper hand.

The Germany international did most of the hard work to get into a penetrative position and, after playing a one-two with Miralem Pjanic, he shot over Rafael's shoulders and found the back of the net.

From that point forward, though, it was all Napoli, and captain Hamsik fluffed an excellent chance to level when teed up with a chest bounce from 20-goal winger Dries Mertens.

Still the Azzurri kept coming and Giorgio Chiellini did brilliantly to deny Callejon a certain goal from another Insigne assist.

Higuain, at this point, was struggling to make an impact as every time he got forward he was assaulted by a wall of whistles from his erstwhile supporters.

In the 24th minute he took receipt of a cutting Mario Lemina pass but appeared to be overwhelmed by the negativity from the home fans.

Napoli took heart from his discomfort and four quick chances to equalise arrived before the break.

First Insigne's sighter was repelled before Hamsik took an inaccurate swipe at it, then Mertens controlled the ball in the box only for Buffon to claim the weak finish.

The 39-year-old keeper then stopped Chiellini heading into his own net before Insigne swiped over the bar with a shot on the turn.

Eleven minutes into the second half Napoli had the ball in Juve's goal, but Callejon's follow-up of a saved Mertens attempt was ruled out for offside.

Not remotely dissuaded, Mertens promptly exchanged deft touches with Hamsik, who burst into the area to beat Leonardo Bonucci and Buffon for 1-1.

Napoli quickly regained their composure after celebrating and, in the 64th minute, Mertens clattered a post when Kwadwo Asamoah made a defensive error.

Juve were encouraged when Slovakian playmaker Hamsik went off early, and Allegri's response was to replace a midfielder with an attacker in the shape of Paulo Dybala.

But the last real opportunity fell to Napoli, with Piotr Zielinski picking out Callejon at the far post, where a powerful header failed to meet its intended target.

Betting on SERIE A? Bet365 are offering a 100% deposit bonus, up to £200 - find out more

Related news

Federico Bernardeschi seals €40m move to Juventus from Fiorentina

Federico Bernardeschi seals €40m move to Juventus from Fiorentina

Juventus have signed young Italy winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina in a €40 million deal.

AC Milan's Mattia De Sciglio joins Juventus for €12m

AC Milan's Mattia De Sciglio joins Juventus for €12m

Juventus have completed the signing of Mattia De Sciglio from AC Milan for €12 million, potentially rising to €12.5m.

AC Milan complete signing of Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus

AC Milan complete signing of Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus

AC Milan have completed the signing of Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus for €42 million.

Wojciech Szczesny completes transfer to Juventus from Arsenal

Wojciech Szczesny completes transfer to Juventus from Arsenal

Juventus have completed the signing of Wojciech Szczesny from Arsenal for a fee of €12.2 million.

Gianluigi Donnarumma signs four-year deal to stay at AC Milan

Gianluigi Donnarumma signs four-year deal to stay at AC Milan

AC Milan have extended the contract of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma until 2021, weeks after the 18-year-old turned down their offer of a new deal.

Bayern's Douglas Costa arrives in Turin ahead of planned move to Juventus

Bayern's Douglas Costa arrives in Turin ahead of planned move to Juventus

Douglas Costa arrived in Turin on Tuesday night ahead of his expected move to Juventus from Bayern Munich.

AC Milan sign Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen

AC Milan sign Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen

AC Milan have completed the signing of Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen.

Gianluigi Donnarumma tells AC Milan he will not renew contract

Gianluigi Donnarumma tells AC Milan he will not renew contract

Gianluigi Donnarumma has informed AC Milan that he will not be extending his contract with the Serie A club, opening up the prospect of a transfer this summer.

Roma hire Eusebio Di Francesco as coach to replace Luciano Spalletti

Roma hire Eusebio Di Francesco as coach to replace Luciano Spalletti

Roma hired Sassuolo manager Eusebio Di Francesco on Monday as their new head coach, replacing Luciano Spalletti, who took over Inter.

RELATED NEWS

Federico Bernardeschi seals €40m move to Juventus from Fiorentina
Juventus news

Federico Bernardeschi seals €40m move to Juventus from Fiorentina

Juventus have signed young Italy winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina in a €40 million deal.

AC Milan's Mattia De Sciglio joins Juventus for €12m
Juventus news

AC Milan's Mattia De Sciglio joins Juventus for €12m

Juventus have completed the signing of Mattia De Sciglio from AC Milan for €12 million, potentially rising to €12.5m.

AC Milan complete signing of Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus
AC Milan news

AC Milan complete signing of Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus

AC Milan have completed the signing of Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus for €42 million.

Wojciech Szczesny completes transfer to Juventus from Arsenal
Juventus news

Wojciech Szczesny completes transfer to Juventus from Arsenal

Juventus have completed the signing of Wojciech Szczesny from Arsenal for a fee of €12.2 million.

Gianluigi Donnarumma signs four-year deal to stay at AC Milan
AC Milan news

Gianluigi Donnarumma signs four-year deal to stay at AC Milan

AC Milan have extended the contract of goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma until 2021, weeks after the 18-year-old turned down their offer of a new deal.

Bayern's Douglas Costa arrives in Turin ahead of planned move to Juventus
Juventus news

Bayern's Douglas Costa arrives in Turin ahead of planned move to Juventus

Douglas Costa arrived in Turin on Tuesday night ahead of his expected move to Juventus from Bayern Munich.

AC Milan sign Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen
AC Milan news

AC Milan sign Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen

AC Milan have completed the signing of Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen.

Gianluigi Donnarumma tells AC Milan he will not renew contract
AC Milan news

Gianluigi Donnarumma tells AC Milan he will not renew contract

Gianluigi Donnarumma has informed AC Milan that he will not be extending his contract with the Serie A club, opening up the prospect of a transfer this summer.

Roma hire Eusebio Di Francesco as coach to replace Luciano Spalletti
AS Roma news

Roma hire Eusebio Di Francesco as coach to replace Luciano Spalletti

Roma hired Sassuolo manager Eusebio Di Francesco on Monday as their new head coach, replacing Luciano Spalletti, who took over Inter.