Gonzalo Higuain produces a 9/10 display to help Juve see off Milan
Defeating AC Milan 2-0 Saturday, Juventus earned three crucial points away at the San Siro and produced a performance that reminded us of how effective they can be when they play to their potential.
Milan started the match with the right intensity and played with ambition and intensity, pressing in unison in an effort to pierce through Juve's defence. However, once Juventus settled in, they always looked the more threatening side, boasting the quality required in the final third to earn the points.
Unlike their opponents, Juventus were efficient and exploited Milan's weaknesses well while containing their strengths. With every player remaining concentrated throughout, Juventus won three important points to apply pressure on Napoli at the top of the Serie A table.
Finally, Juventus managed a clean sheet! Their first since late September, the defenders did a good job to throw themselves on the line to ensure safety at the back while the rest tracked back to provide help. Showing desire and concentration, Juve held firm and demanded the opponent be at their best to penetrate, something Milan couldn't manage in the end.
None to speak of, but when you see Juventus perform as they did -- with Gonzalo Higuain playing like the champion he is -- you wonder why it's taken them until now for the side to play a game worthy of the stars on their jersey.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Not only did Massimiliano Allegri prepare well for the game by identifying Milan's strengths and neutralising them -- asking his men to double-mark Suso for example -- but he ensured his players remained concentrated and motivated throughout the match. A game played with maturity, Juventus handled all the different stages of the match well to secure the win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Did enough to put off Nikola Kalinic and ensure his shot hit the crossbar and not the back of the net. Barely called upon thereafter.
DF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 5 -- Not really producing the displays he once could, struggling for the energy required to really make an impact in either phase of the game.
DF Daniele Rugani, 6 -- Positive signs from the player who denied Hakan Calhanoglu from making an impact but there is still so much room for improvement. Yet to really play with composure and be aware of his surroundings while he's still a little reckless at times. Continuity will help him grow even further.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, 6 -- A few mistakes that went unpunished but as always decisive in the big games, clearing the ball, intercepting and throwing his body on the line to block two shots.
DF Kwadwo Asamoah, 7 -- Great defending from the player who was always in the right position at the right time to stop Suso and contain any danger. It was his great work that helped create Juve's second goal.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 6 -- Pjanic played with intelligence and cunning ability, exerting control over the match even if he was dispossessed quite often. A little too lackadaisical at times.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- A player who adapts to the demands of the game with such great intelligence, Khedira sacrificed himself and did the dirty work to ensure safety.
MF Juan Cuadrado, 6 -- He utilised his pace well and continued to provide an outlet for a pass but he was impressive when tracking back, providing a solid contribution to the defence.
MF Paulo Dybala, 6 -- He did wonderfully to serve Higuain with a fine assist for the first goal and a dummy for the second to demonstrate selflessness and intelligence. Good movement and control but his shooting was woeful, wasting several great chances.
MF Mario Mandzukic, 6 -- As always, few can match the player's spirit of sacrifice, working in tandem with Asamoah to neutralise Suso. A fighter in every sense of the world, his defensive duties restricted him from contributing effectively to the attack.
FW Gonzalo Higuain, 9 -- Excellent performance from the forward who scored his 100th and 101st Serie A goals. How exceptional the forward can be when he glides across the pitch, delivers perfect passes and finishes off opportunities with great technique and efficiency. Showing intelligence and great reflexes, we almost forgot how much Higuain is capable of in the final third.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 6 -- Came on to ensure safety and composure at the back.
DF Alex Sandro, N/A -- Provided his standard performance, nothing less, nothing more.
MF Blaise Matuidi, N/A -- Wasn't on long enough to make an impact.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.