Football

Allegri, Higuain irritated by criticism

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted he would not be getting depressed despite criticism at failing to land the killer blow against Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions League last-16, first-leg, clash in Turin yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"If anyone thought that Juventus would win 4-0 this evening he was way off track," AFP quoted Allegri as saying, after his more experienced side threw away a dream start with two Gonzalo Higuain goals inside 10 minutes to end with a 2-2 draw in front of their frustrated fans at the Allianz Stadium.

"The Champions League is a dream and an objective, but winning it is not easy. I think people have lost some objectivity here.

"Juve play to win, but they are not the favourites. You can't reach the final every year."

Higuain got the first goal after 73 seconds, and minutes later added a second from the spot after Ben Davies' foul on Federico Bernardeschi.

But Harry Kane revived Spurs' hopes after 35 minutes with his seventh goal in the competition this season, after rounding goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Higuain missed a second penalty before the break following Serge Aurier's reckless challenge on Douglas Costa.

It proved crucial as Christian Eriksen scored Tottenham's equaliser from a free-kick after centre back Giorgio Chiellini fouled Dele Alli.

"It's like we lost 8-0," Allegri berated journalists at the post-match press conference.

Juventus are bidding for a seventh straight Serie A title this season, and are just one point off leaders Napoli.

They are also in the running for a fourth straight Coppa Italia, and will aim to reach the final of the Champions League for the third time in four years.

"People must realise that winning is not normality, it is extraordinary," said Allegri.

IRRITATED

"I will not accept that tonight's draw could depress the fans. There are some scary ups and downs in the mood here.

"This really irritates me, because people have no idea of how teams function. "

Higuain seemed to echo his manager's sentiments.

He wrote on his Instagram page: "It's easy to talk after the game from a sofa or an armchair… until 2-0 everything was perfect, after the 2-2 the judgement changes quickly.

"We're not really interested in these voices."

While Allegri and Higuain seemed irritated, Bernardeschi felt that Juve deserved a win.

He told Italian broadcaster Mediaset Premium: "After going 2-0 up, we couldn't possibly maintain that tempo.

"It's a pity about the 2-2 result, because we deserved to win, but we're confident going into the second leg."

Teammate Mattia de Sciglio, meanwhile, felt his team ceded too much of the pitch to Spurs.

He told Mediaset Premium: "They might be a little loose at the back, but from the midfield up they are very talented.

"After we went 2-0 up, we got too deep and allowed Spurs too much of the pitch. They advanced so much that we were then too far away to counter."

Football