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11 April 2012
• Juventus Stadium, Torino
Referee: A. Damato
• Attendance: 35000
Thanks for your input, as always. Juve fans, get yourselves a nice drink and a sit down. This is Tom Woods signing off for Goal.com. Catch you back here soon.
That was the very definition of squeaky bum time. For much of the second half, it looked as though Juve would not find a way past a terrific Lazio defence. However, Alessandro Del Piero, like so many times before, has rescued his side with a moment of sheer brilliance. If that is to be Juve's hardest game en route to the Scudetto, then they have every reason to feel they can go on and claim the prize from here.
That's it! The final whistle brings a huge roar from Juventus Stadium, as their side go back to the top of Serie A!
90' + 6'
We're still playing here, after that lengthy injury treatment for Bonucci. Hearts in mouths everywhere you look.
90' + 5'
Good work from Matri, who forces a throw in by the Lazio corner flag. That was met with a tremendous cheer from the home support. They can taste victory now.
90' + 3'
In all that chaos, Leonardo Bonucci has stayed down on the ground. The stretcher is brought out, but he looks OK to get to his feet. Both sides playing with ten men for now though.
90' + 2'
Yellow/Red Libor Kozák
90' + 2'
RED CARD! Well, that was short and sweet from Libor Kozak. After conceding a free-kick on the edge of the Juve area, the Czech forward reacts furiously, pushing Juve players out of his way and no doubt directing some choice words towards the referee. He receives his marching orders, and Lazio are down to ten.
90' + 2'
@FredMidhat That goal should earn Del Piero a place in Juventus for another season. They can't let him go now!
90' + 1'
@mp01juve I woke up my neighbourhood @6am here in Adelaide, Australia with that piece of Del Piero magic.
90' + 1'
We are into the first of four minutes of added time. Lazio are piling forward in search of an equaliser.
That decision was too much for Edy Reja. The Lazio coach has been sent off for his protests on the sidelines. It's all kicking off...
What a waste. The corner is played to Brocchi on the edge of the box, but after a push inside the area, the free-kick is awarded to to Juve.
Now Lazio can bring the ball forward, and a deflected Hernanes shot has forced a corner...
Juve are looking to turn the screw, as Pirlo lofts a ball forward towards Giaccherini inside the area. Marchetti is out to punch clear. Yet more good keeping from the Lazio stopper.
Good call from @Royzzzay earlier - it is indeed Del Piero who has made the difference here.
@Royzzzay Always count on Del Piero to come through for the Old Lady !!
I should add that Ledesma was also booked in the build up to that free-kick. Del Piero's strike gets better with every watch, the kind of moment that defines a season.
Goal Alessandro Del Piero
GOOOAAALLL JUVE! What a huge moment that could be. Lazio concede a free-kick on the edge of the box, and Alessandro Del Piero, Juve's most beloved son, steps up to curl the ball into the bottom corner. It's a superb strike, and an enormous goal in the Serie A title race. The number 10 is rightly mobbed by his team mates. That was a moment of genius.
Yellow Card Cristian Ledesma
Final change from Lazio too. Entering the fray is Cristian Brocchi, who replaces Alvaro Gonzalez.
Yellow Card Libor Kozák
A final change from Juventus. Emaneuele Giaccherini is on for Vidal.
That is a big chance. As Lichtsteiner slides to knock a pass across goal, Giorgio Chiellini swings at the ball from three yards out. However, the centre back is off balance and can't connect properly. Another chance gone.
A good effort from Del Piero there, who tests Marchetti from twenty yards. Has the veteran got another vital goal in those boots tonight?
Great defending by Barzagli, who slides to block Antonio Candreva as the Lazio forward threatened to break into the area. Juve are going all-out for a winner, but will need to keep a close eye on those Lazio breaks, which are being made regularly and with pace.
Bit of a mess from Juve there. Lichtsteiner's cross is begging to be hit, but two forwards go for the ball at the same time, and nobody connects. Nothing more annoying than a fresh-air shot. Particularly when you really need a goal.
Let's see how those changes to the forward line affect both sides. We're into the final fifteen minutes. It's crunch time...
Alessandro Del Piero
Very quickly, Edy Reja makes a second change for Lazio. Tommaso Rocchi trudges off, and in his place comes the Czech forward Libor Kozak.
Time for the subs. For Juventus, Alessandro Matri replaces Simone Pepe and, to a huge cheer, Alessando Del Piero is on for Mirko Vucinic. For Lazio, the Brazilian Hernanes comes on for Stefano Mauri.
Rocchi is very nearly on to a long ball inside the Juve area, and only the outstretched leg of Bonucci stops the number 9 from connecting. It's getting very tense here, and could really go either way.
This is absolutely relentless from Juve, and you have to say the Lazio defence is doing a magnificent job to keep their opponents at bay. Still, something will have to give one way or the other soon...
Lichtsteiner again! A sumptuous chip by Vidal is dropping perfectly for a right-foot volley, but instead it's met by a scuffed effort that trickles through to Marchetti. How many of these chances are Juve going to miss?
Almost a moment of magic from Pirlo, whose clipped ball dissects the Lazio defence and finds Lichtsteiner at the back post. The Swiss is offside, however, and the chance is gone.
The final ball is just lacking at the moment for Juve. Arturo Vidal's touch is far too heavy on the edge of the box and Lazio can clear. The home crowd collectively groans in frustration.
Good effort from Claudio Marchisio, who blasts a left-foot strike two or three yards wide from the edge of the box. Juve are banging on the door, but the Lazio defence is holding firm at the moment.
It's all Juventus here, but Quagliarella has just wasted possession badly. First, the striker fails to pick out a man in space out wide, then stabs a ball to nobody that runs out of play. Juve will need him to re-discover his first half form, and quickly.
Another good opportunity for Juve from a Pirlo set play. Chiellini attacks the ball at the far post, but can't direct his header on target. Good defending by Diakite to put him off.
Vucinic wins a free-kick on the near touchline, and Pirlo goes straight for goal. His dipping strike is tipped over by Marchetti, who is alive to the danger. The Lazio keeper is having an absolute blinder so far.
To that last point, you would feel that a change of approach is imminent from Juventus. No need to panic yet though.
Yellow Card Fabio Quagliarella
@Royzzzay Conte should bring on Del Piero for some much needed creativity!! #Juve
Yellow Card Stefano Mauri
Things have got a bit heated here. Damato stops play after Juve take the corner too quickly, and amid the protests, Quagliarella is booked for pushing his marker inside the box. Conte will not enjoy seeing these bookings mount up...
Yellow card for goalscorer Mauri, who trips Pirlo from behind inside the centre circle. Seconds later, Pirlo's cross-come-shot is headed away for a corner...
And there's the second! A cross-field ball from Pepe is controlled instantly by Vucinic, who flashes a left-foot volley across the face of goal. It was a very tight angle, but technically it's another chance gone for the Old Lady.
Quagliarella attempts a wonderful curling effort that is only just over the bar. First effort of the half from Juve.
Over on Twitter, Goal.com's Renger Dotinga (@RengerDotinga) says: "Lazio look the biggest obstacle in Juve's title charge... but are they the team that can end that impressive unbeaten run?" They could be, Renger. They could be.
Yellow Card Giorgio Chiellini
However, that is a definite foul. Chiellini goes in late and heavy on Lionel Scaloni, and Antonio Damato has no choice but to show the yellow card. Juve in danger of losing their heads here.
Lazio complain again as Diakite goes down holding his face following a challenge with Chiellini. Nothing in that, from what I can see.
Yellow Card Stephan Lichtsteiner
Blimey, that was quick. The ball is immediately cleared and suddenly Tommaso Rocchi is sprinting away inside the Juventus half. As he checks back inside, he is brought down by Lichtsteiner, who is very close to being last man. The Swiss is booked for the foul, but much as Rocchi made a meal of it, the colour could very well have been red.
Good stuff from the home side already. A lofted cross by Chiellini is headed away by Javier Garrido for a corner.
The teams are back out and we are underway in the second half. Could be a very, very important 45 minutes for Juventus coming up.
@seyi_milan - So many defensive errors in serie A today! Nice goal from Pepe though...
How about that first half then? Both sides might fancy they can go on and win this, no? Keep your thoughts coming in to me via @woodstome on Twitter.
The half time whistle goes. Juve may feel they did enough to be two or three goals ahead, but thanks to some excellent goalkeeping from Marchetti, were unable to convert a series of glorious chances. Mauri's bullet header means we are all square at 1-1, and Juve, at least temporarily, are falling behind Milan in the title race.
Assist Lionel Scaloni
Goal Stefano Mauri
GOOAALLL LAZIO! Well what do I know. The Juve defence is finally split, as Stefano Mauri finds acres of room in front of goal to head Scaloni's cross into the top corner. It's terrible defending from the home side, and they have paid the ultimate price for their complacency.
Lazio have won a series of throw-ins inside the Juventus half, but can't seem to find a way into the penalty area. Edy Reja's side are struggling to turn possession into any meaningful chances, which I suppose is testament to this excellent Juve defence.
Vidal again tries his luck from range, and his grass-cutter is heading for the bottom corner before Marchetti turns the ball behind. This is real shoot-on-sight stuff from Juve tonight. Fabulous to watch.
Nice effort from Lazio. Antonio Candreva cuts in from the left wing and fires low and hard towards goal. Buffon makes the save, but it's a warning to Juve that this game is not won by a long way.
So nearly 2-0! Pirlo's lofted ball finds Lichtsteiner on the right, and his cut-back presents Vucinic with an opening from 10 yards out. However a sliding Diakite throws himself in front of the shot to block the goal-bound effort. Heroic defending.
Juve are starting to enjoy themselves now, playing lots of neat triangles inside the opposing half. They are almost helped on their way by Ledesma, who slices a clearance horribly into the path of Vucinic. The home side are dominant, and will want a second goal to rubber-stamp this before half time.
Yellow Card Giuseppe Biava
Another booking for Giuseppe Biava, who brings down Vucinic clumsily. Lazio will need to watch their discipline as this game wears on.
Another fantastic save from Marchetti! Quagliarella turns on a sixpence inside the area, and he must think he's scored with a left foot strike that deflects off his own foot. Marchetti has other ideas however, and despite falling the other direction, sticks out a trailing hand to push the ball away. He had no right to save that. No right at all.
My goodness that is outrageous. Arturo Vidal spots Marchetti off his line and lets fly from fully 60 yards. It's headed for the top corner too, but a scrambling Marchetti takes off to tip the ball over the bar. What a save, but an even better attempt from the Chilean.
Assist Andrea Pirlo
Goal Simone Pepe
GOOOAALLLL JUVE! Instant redemption for Pepe! Pirlo is the architect, clipping a splendid pass over the top of the Lazio defence, and the number 7 takes the ball on his chest before swivelling to volley home. Great strike, and a real settler for Juventus, who must have been starting to think they were never going to score.
Chance! What a save! The ball breaks for Simone Pepe inside the box, and in fact, it is a fantastic opportunity to score. But the former Udinese man drives the ball straight at Marchetti, who lets the ball run just under his arm before recovering. Massive chance gone.
Juve are straight up the other end and it's Chiellini who again turns provider. His ball in from the left is well gathered by Marchetti, but two Juve strikers were lurking ominously.
Ledesma goes for goal with a sweetly struck right-foot shot, but Gianluigi Buffon is well placed to pat the ball down and claim. Good attempt all the same.
Now here's a chance. Alvaro Gonzalez goes down on the edge of the box and wins a free-kick for Lazio. Could be dangerous.
Penalty? Hmmmm. Mirko Vucinic tangles with Scaloni just inside the area and falls heavily to the floor. He screams for justice, and there is an argument to say he was unfairly impeded. Looked more accidental than anything though.
I don't think Tommaso Rocchi has touched the ball yet. The bald-headed striker chases a hopeful ball into the box but is easily blocked out by the Juve defence. It may be a frustrating night for the Lazio number 9.
If Juve score here tonight, it may well be something memorable. Leonardo Bonucci is the latest to attempt a goal-of-the-season contender, striding forward before letting fly with the outside of his boot from 35 yards. The ball whistles wide of post and bar. Very entertaining to see a centre back try something like that though.
...headed away by Bonucci. This mean Juve defence has not looked at all like being breached so far.
Lazio have a spell of pressure here, winning a series of free-kicks without yet managing a clear sight of goal. Ledesma has another dead-ball to orchestrate here though...
Maybe that's a step too far though. Qualiarella picks out Vucinic in space on the edge of the box, but instead of controlling, the Montenegro forward tries a first-time spectacular that is scuffed into the turf. Really needed a second touch there.
Juve are throwing their complete box of tricks at Lazio in an attempt to break through. Quagliarella tries an audacious back-heel to Vidal that is too clever even for the brilliant Chilean. Marchetti gathers the loose ball. Full marks for creativity from Conte's side.
Another free-kick for Pirlo as Lionel Scaloni commits a foul on the corner of his own area. Marchetti makes a great diving interception to divert the ball away.
So, so close. A chip forward by Bonucci completely wrong-foots the defence, and Quagliarella stretches out a long leg to meet it. He is an inch from controlling the ball, where he would be in on goal. Lovely ball, lovely run. That may be what it takes to get by the Lazio defence tonight.
Yellow Card Modibo Diakite
That is very good pressure from Lazio. First, Diakite heads Pirlo's kick away, before Juve are quickly forced back into their own half and end up conceding possession. Edy Reja's side may be set up to frustrate their hosts here...
The first booking of the match is shown to Mobido Diakite. Rightly so too, as the French defender comes plowing through the back of Arturo Vidal. Bit reckless that. Juve free-kick...
...not for long though. Slightly dazed, Marchetti is back on his feet and we can get going again.
Quagliarella really fancies this tonight. He tries a skidding shot from 25 yards that looks comfortable for Marchetti, until it takes a wicked bounce at the last minute and smacks him full in the face. The visiting keeper is still down after that impact...
First chance for Lazio to make an impression on the Juve goal. Cristian Ledesma floats a deep free-kick into the area, but Stefano Mauri is fouling his man and a free-kick is given.
I should add that Chiellini appears to be operating as a left full-back here. Maybe not his preferred position, but on that evidence, he won't be afraid to bomb forward all the same.
Close! A great move involving Vucinic and Pirlo releases Chiellini out wide, and his drives cross is met by a sliding Quagliarella that is just over the bar. Exciting stuff here, but no breakthrough quite yet.
Juve have started like a train. Vucinic is almost in as he chases a high ball into the area, but Lazio keeper Federico Marchetti is out quickly to stop him. Certainly no sign of nerves yet from Conte's side.
A last-minute change to the Juve lineup to bring you. Stephan Lichtsteiner starts in place of Paolo De Ceglie. Looks more like 4-3-3 from the home side...
Straight away, Juve force a corner as Vucinic jinks his way into the area and is blocked by Diakite. Two corners in succession are headed away by the Lazio defence.
Referee Antonio Damato blows his whistle and we are underway.
Here come the teams. You won’t be surprised to hear that Juventus Stadium is rocking, with a packed house anticipating an eleventh home league win of the season. Will they get it, or can Lazio crash the party? We’re about to find out…
No such luxuries for Lazio, who are without full-backs Stefan Radu and Abdoulay Konko, along with key players Miroslav Klose, Senad Lulic and Andre Dias due to injury. Uruguayan Alvaro Gonzalez comes into the midfield to replace Hernanes, while Stefano Mauri lines up behind lone striker Tommaso Rocchi. LAZIO LINEUP (4-2-3-1): Marchetti; Scaloni, Diakite, Biava, Garrido; Cana, Ledesma; Gonzalez, Mauri, Candreva; Rocchi Subs: Bizzarri, Scaloni, Zauri, Brocchi Matuzalem, Hernanes, Alfaro, Kozak
On to the teams for tonight’s match. For Juventus, Conte has a fully fit squad to choose from, and makes two changes from the side that defeated Palermo at the weekend, with Simone Pepe and Stephan Lichtsteiner replacing Martin Caceres and Marcelo Estigarribia. After two goals in his last two appearances, Fabio Quagliarella continues upfront alongside Mirko Vucinic. JUVE LINEUP (4-3-3): Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio; Pepe, Quagliarella, Vucinic Subs: Storari, Caceres, De Ceglie, Giaccherini, Borriello, Matri, Del Piero
One thing is clear, which is that Lazio’s recent record against Juventus is not great. No win in the last 14 meetings, having lost their last three, and no victory in Turin since 2003. These are just numbers, of course, but with home coach Antonio Conte calling for Juventus to win every remaining match this season, the hosts will want to make use of this psychological advantage for all it is worth.
Is the visiting coach playing mind games? On one hand, his Lazio side sit third in the table, that much sought after Champions League position, and after a hugely impressive 3-1 victory over Napoli, Reja may be quietly confident of springing a surprise here. On the other hand, the Biancocelesti have been wildly inconsistent this year, losing seven out of 15 and only once managing to put back-to-back results together. This is certainly a team capable of breaking the home side’s unbeaten run; it just depends which version of it decides to turn up.
So can the Old Lady do it? One man who believes they can is tonight’s opposing coach, Edy Reja. The Lazio boss took the time this week to comment on the extraordinary job being performed at Juve, adding that he believes an easier fixture run-in will see them edge out Milan for the title.
After Milan’s victory at Chievo last night, the Bianconeri find themselves two points behind their rivals, but with tonight’s game in hand to come. The home side are aiming for a 28th league title, the first unbeaten season in Serie A for twenty years, and also have the final of the Coppa Italia to come. For a largely re-invented team, which didn’t even qualify for Europe last season, pulling this off would be a hell of an achievement. A hell of an achievement.
I’ll wager there will be a few nerves among you Juventus fans tonight. Lots of optimism, but definitely some nerves creeping in. Whatever your allegiance, I want to hear from you. The name’s Tom Woods and the Twitter is @woodstome. Go for it.
Evening all. Welcome to Goal.com for the business end of the Serie A season. We have a new front-runner to lift the Scudetto, but if they are to fulfil this ambition, there will be few bigger challenges than tonight’s encounter. This one could be close, and will be oh-so-important for the title run in.
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