MILAN (Reuters) - Ten-man Torino were cruelly denied a shock win away to their more illustrious neighbours Juventus on Saturday when Gonzalo Higuain struck in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw for the Serie A leaders.
However, Torino succeeded in ending Juve’s run of 33 successive home league wins and denied them the chance to wrap up the title this weekend.
Adem Ljajic gave Torino a 52nd-minute lead with an exquisite free kick but the side were incensed when Afriyie Acquah was sent off five minutes later after two harshly awarded yellow cards.
Torino were set for their first away win over Juventus in 22 years until Higuain, who started on the bench, collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and beat Joe Hart with a shot of stunning precision into the bottom left-hand corner.
Juventus have 85 points, eight ahead of Napoli with three games each to play. AS Roma, who visit AC Milan on Sunday, are a further two points back in third.
Torino coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was also sent off when he ran on to the pitch to confront the referee about Acquah’s sending off.
The Ghanaian midfielder was harshly booked for a foul on Paulo Dybala in the first half and replays showed that he played the ball when he was booked again for a tackle on Mario Mandzukic.
“I could see from the touchline that he got the ball cleanly. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that,” said Mihajlovic.
”It was an unjustifiable mistake and it wasn’t the only one, as in the first half we got three yellow cards for a perfectly fair game.
”This draw is worth a win and I am really proud of my lads. We had character, tactical intelligence and determination.
“We did something nobody else had been able to do, which was to stop Juventus winning at home in Serie A and we did it with 10 men.”
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri rested several key players ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against AS Monaco, including Gianluigi Buffon, Miralem Pjanic and Higuain.
Medhi Benatia headed against the crossbar early on for Juventus while Hart saved from Stephan Lichtsteiner and then blocked Dybala’s shot with his chest after the Argentine burst through the Torino defence.
Torino took a shock lead when Ljajic floated a perfect free kick over the wall and in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving Norberto Neto stranded.
Despite Acquah’s sending-off, Hart had only one difficult save to make, from Leonardo Bonucci at close range, until Higuain struck with his 24th goal of the season.
“We created a lot but we were a little frenetic. But I‘m happy because it’s an important point that brings us closer to our objective,” said Allegri.
In the earlier game, Dries Mertens celebrated his 30th birthday by scoring twice for Napoli in a 3-1 win over Cagliari, taking his tally for the season to 30 goals in all competitions.
Lorenzo Insigne scored the third and Diego Farias replied for outclassed Cagliari as Napoli moved up to second place on 77 points.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar