Mario Mandzukic heads Juventus towards victory at San Siro

Mario Mandzukic matched last season’s Serie A goals tally with his fifth of the season as Juventus recorded a 2-0 victory over AC Milan on Sunday evening.

The Croatian forward headed Juve in front in the eighth minute after a lively start to proceedings at San Siro.

The hosts were then presented with a golden chance to equalise before the break when they were awarded a penalty following a Video Assistant Referee consultation after the ball struck Medhi Benatia’s hand in the box as Gonzalo Higuain attempted to flicked it beyond him.

But Argentina forward Higuain, on loan from Juventus, saw his 41st-minute spot-kick saved by visiting goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Cristiano Ronaldo added a second late on to restore Juve’s six-point advantage at the top of the table, before Milan had Higuain sent off for a furious reaction to being booked for a foul on Benatia.

The game began with a high tempo as both teams pushed for the opener in the early stages.

It took leaders Juventus just eight minutes to break the deadlock as Mandzukic rose high above Ricardo Rodriguez at the back post to head Alex Sandro’s pinpoint cross beyond Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Mandzukic had a chance to score what would have been a carbon-copy goal three minutes later but this time the ball was turned behind for a corner just before it reached him.

Juve came close again in the 33rd minute when Paulo Dybala’s deflected shot from range looped towards goal but Donnarumma was able to hold it on the line.

Shortly after Suso’s long-range effort had called Szczesny into action, the home supporters were appealing for a penalty when Higuain’s flick hit the hand of Benatia in the area.

And after referring the decision to VAR, the referee pointed to the spot.

But Higuain failed to beat Szczesny from 12 yards as the Poland stopper guessed correctly and touched the ball onto the left post.

Juventus flew out of the blocks in the second half, with Ronaldo creating a number of early chances before Dybala sent his 57th-minute free-kick inches wide.

Ronaldo doubled Juve’s lead nine minutes before the end, slamming in the rebound after Joao Cancelo’s fierce drive had been parried by Donnarumma.

And things went from bad to worse for Milan when Higuain was sent off seven minutes before the end after reacting angrily to being booked for fouling Benatia.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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