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Controversial Higuain winner boosts Napoli's CL qualification hopes

Photo: Massimo Pinca/AP

Gonzalo Higuain celebrates his crucial late game-winning goal for Napoli against Torino on Monday.

ROME (AP) - Gonzalo Higuain scored a controversial goal in the 90th minute to give Napoli a 1-0 win at Torino on Monday and boost its chances of qualifying directly for the Champions League.

The victory moved Napoli provisionally level with Roma in second place, although Roma was hosting Udinese later and even after that will have a game in hand.

The top two finishers in Italy gain direct entry to the Champions League, while the third-place finisher goes into the last playoff round.

''We've gotten three very important points,'' Higuain said. ''We wanted to draw closer to Roma.''

Napoli beat Roma 1-0 last weekend, although Roma beat its southern rival 2-0 in October and so holds the head-to-head edge.

Higuain appeared to foul Torino defender Kamil Glik with a push outside the area after collecting a long pass from Marek Hamsik then dribbled in to score with an angled shot that Torino goalkeeper Daniele Padelli got his hands on and could have done better to stop.

''I don't know if it was a foul,'' Higuain said. ''It was a quick play.''

It was Higuain's 14th goal this season, after transferring from Real Madrid in July, moving him one behind Juventus' Carlos Tevez for the Serie A scoring lead.

Napoli had rarely threatened for most of the match, and Torino's Cesare Bovo and Riccardo Meggiorini hit the post either side of halftime.

Torino, which has lost five of its last six matches, remained 10th.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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