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18 December 2011
• Juventus Stadium, Torino
Referee: A. Gervasoni
• Attendance: 28000
An early goal from Simone Pepe, and then a header from Fabio Quagliarella in the second half was enough to give Juventus the win here today against a hard-working Novara side. I've been Alex Mott, thanks for joining me.
And that's it! The referee blows for full time, and Juventus have run out, in the end, fairly comfortable 2-0 winners.
A free kick to Juve is smashed in by Pepe from the right-hand side, and the Italian tries to out-fox Ujkani by shooting at his near post. The 'keeper has it covered though, as the ball hits the outside of the post.
Estigarribia fouls Porcari right by Juventus' right-hand corner flag. The subsequent ball is whipped in by Meggiorini, but Juventus clear the ball away with ease.
OHHH. And the whole stadium thought that was in. A corner from Pepe goes into the near post, and Matri with his back to goal tees up Marchisio on the edge of the area. The Italian midfielder, completely unmarked, fires the ball towards the bottom left corner, but Paci is on hand to clear the ball away.
And Quagliarella leaves the field to the loudest cheers of the afternoon. After a nightmare year, blighted by injury, you have to say, it's nothing less than he deserves!
Assist Andrea Pirlo
Goal Fabio Quagliarella
GOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!!! And it's Quagliarella with his first goal in 364 days! A corner from the right was whipped in, and Quagliarella rose highest to head into the far, left-hand corner, and leave Ujkani with no chance. 2-0.
A sustained period of pressure from Juventus there, came to nothing as Pirlo attempted a chipped through-ball that was slightly overhit.
Elsewhere in Serie A, Catania are 2-0 up in the Sicilian Derby against Palermo, whilst Inter have just gone 1-0 up away to Cesena.
Novara have really grown the longer this game has gone on. They look shaky at the back, but Juve definitely haven't brought their shooting boots today. With 25 minutes to go, anything could happen here.
WHAT A SAVE! Morganella puts in a superb cross from the right, and Rubino gets up above Chiellini and heads it right into the far, left-hand corner. It looks for all the world as if it's going in, but Buffon dives athletically to his right, and saves magnificently.
Alessandro Del Piero
What does Del Piero have to do to score today? A break from Juve sees Pepe all alone in the Novara half. Sprinting forward with the ball, he squares it to Del Piero inside the box. But the ball is slightly too slow, and Paci manages to get back and clear right at the last minute.
Yellow Card Emanuele Giaccherini
Del Piero breaks for Juve, and plays the ball wide left to Giaccherini. A few step-overs later, the youngster is at the byline and plays the ball back to Del Piero inside the box. With his back to goal, he tees it off to Marchisio, but his shot is poor and goes well wide.
Well, that was atrocious from Novara. Radovanovic dispossesses Marchisio, and counter-attacks towards the Juventus goal. In a three v two situation, instead of going rigth to Rubino, Radovanovic passes left to Meggiorini, and his shot from outside the box goes wide. They should have done an awful lot better with that.
Juventus win a corner, and Del Piero whips in a superb ball towards the front post. Flicked on, the ball is at the mercy of anyone who can get there, but luckily for Novara, no one does, and Tesser's side clear.
Yellow Card Matteo Centurioni
Buffon plays a long ball up to Quagliarella, but Centurioni gets pulled up for an elbow/forearm, and a free kick is given. The ball is played quickly, and GIaccherini gets through on goal, only to see his low shot saved by Ujkani.
Ludi gets far too close to Quagliarella and concedes a free kick for a shirt pull out wide on the right. The subsequent free kick is whipped in by Pirlo, but the ball is massivly overhit, and the ball goes out of play.
OHHHH. And Del Piero was so close to making it two! Pepe went on a lung-busting run down the right, and once inside the box, found Del Piero all alone just to the left of the penalty spot. And with all the time in the world, he tried to curl the ball into the right-hand corner, only to see his shot go wide of the post.
And we're back underway. Juventus, still in that awful pink number, kick from right-to-left.
It's been an interesting half here at the Juventus Arena. It looked, once Pepe had put the Bianconeri 1-0 up after four minutes, as if it the Old Lady would slaughter the visitors. But that hasn't been the case. Novara have worked incredibly hard, and perhaps should have scored right at the end there. As always, if you have any comments about today's game, @alexjmott is where to post your thoughts.
And that's it. The referee blows for half time, and Juventus go into the interval 1-0 up.
And nearly a goal for Novara. Rigoni gets on the end of a Morganella cross, but his header goes straight at Buffon, when he should have done a lot better!
Yellow Card Francesco Marianini
Marianini goes in late on Del Piero and concedes a free kick right in the centre of the pitch, 25m out. The veteran striker picks himself up and shoots low towards Ujkani's left-hand post, but the 'keeper gets down well and saves.
Pressure from Marchisio and Pepe down by the right-hand corner flag force Ludi to concede a free kick. The ball is then whipped in by Del Piero, but Paci heads the ball away.
Great save from Ujkani. A ball from the right-hand side by Pepe finds Giaccherini inside the area, and the youngster headers the ball superbly towards goal, but the 'keeper gets down well to his right, and tips the ball away.
A long ball from Rigoni goes inbetween Barzagli and Chiellini, and Meggiorini almost gets on the end of it. Buffon though, is quick off his line, and gathers the ball on the edge of the area.
Morganella whips in an early cross for Rigoni to get on the end of, but the midfielder's header is poor and goes well wide of the far post.
Marchisio receives the ball 25m out in the centre of the pitch, and tries an audacious attmept goal. The shot is poor though, and Ujkani saves easily.
And Del Piero very nearly makes it two! Giaccherini, from the edge of the area, finds the veteran striker out wide on the left. He steps inside and tries to whip the ball into the far corner of the net, but the ball goes wide of the post.
Novara go straight up the other end and win a corner. The ball is whipped in, but Chiellini heads away expertly.
Pepe wins a corner for Juventus, but they try to be a bit too clever, and the short one between Del Piero and Giaccherini doesn't quite come off. And Novara clear.
Oh dear. Pepe, on the left-hand side, goes into the box, and squares to Del Piero who has drifted back to the edge of the box. He tries to shoot first time, but is leaning back, and fires miles over.
Radovanovic tries to shoot at the Juventus goal, but the shot is blocked by Chiellini and Juventus break. Giaccherini glides over the halfway line and finds Pepe on the right-hand flank. He moves upfield and puts in a cross to the far post, but Morganella heads the ball away.
From the subsequent throw in, Giaccherini whips in a cross for Quagliarella to got on the end of, but the Italian's header goes well wide.
Pablo Hernan Dellafiore
Chiellini finds himself out wide on the left wing, and plays a short, square ball to Del Piero inside the box. HIs touch is porr though, and Paci comes in to clear.
Marchisio goes down under a challenge from Centurioni inside the centre circle and a free kick is given. The set piece is tried to be played quickly. but Lichtsteiner is in an offside position.
A Pirlo free kick is played short to Marchisio, and he chips a ball into the box from 30m out. The ball finds Giaccherini inside the box, and once chested down, he fires in a slightly awkward shot towards goal, which Ujkani saves fairly easily.
Rigoni goes on the first real intentful run for Novara, but his cross is overhit from the right-hand, and the ball runs away and out of play.
Lichtsteiner's again involved as he goes on an overlapping run past Pepe. The Swiss international then plays in a cross to the far-post, but no one is there, and the ball runs away for a throw-in.
De Ceglie plays a sqaure ball to Pirlo, and the veteran tries a cheeky first time ball around the corner. The ball though, is too strong for Del Piero and Ujkani gathers easily.
I was trying to see some glimmer of hope for Novara before the game started, but that early goal has dented any sort of hope they may have of winning this game. The 3-5-2 that Tesser set up was obviously employed to hold out for as long as possible, but that is not the case, and I fear it could become embarrassing for the newly-promoted club if they're not careful.
Assist Paolo De Ceglie
Goal Simone Pepe
GOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!!!! And it's Pepe who scores for the Old Lady. De Ceglie smashes in a low cross from the left-hand side, and Pepe is on hand at the far post to tap in unmarked. 1-0.
And almost immediately Juventus get the ball back, and Marchisio is through on goal. His deft flick though, is saved by Ujkani, and Novara escape.
Lichtsteiner whips in an early cross, deep from the right-hand side. But the ball is too strong, and it goes out for a goal kick.
Here we go then. Juventus, in that horrific pink strip of theirs will get us underway, kicking from left-to-right.
The teams are out of the tunnel, everyone's getting jolly excited.
Kick off in in five minutes, and the air of expectancy circuling around the Juventus Arena is palpable.
It's a year tomorrow since Quagliarella last scored for Juventus. If he's going to get that monkey off his back, you'd fancy it to be thrown off today, wouldn't you?
As always, if you want to send me any thoughts/predictions/musings/abuse, please do over on Twitter @alexjmott.
Andrea Pirlo starts today, and he has already become vital to this Juventus side. He's also the only player in Serie A to have attempted over 1,000 passes in the league this season, which is one of the main reasons why Juventus are now the only side in a major European league to have reamined unbeaten. And before you all email in, by 'major European league' I mean Italy, Spain, France, Germany and England.
The last time these two sides met, both games ended in draws. But that was 55 years ago, so we probably shouldn't take too much from that stat.
Novara: (3-5-2) Ujkani; Morganella, Dellafiore, Ludi, Centurioni, Gemiti; Marianini, Radovanovic, Rigoni; Meggiorini, Rubino.
Meanwhile, the line-ups have been announced, and they've thrown up one or two surprises. Juventus: (4-3-3) Buffon; Lichtsteiner, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Ceglie; Giaccherini, Pirlo, Marchisio; Pepe, Quagliarella, Del Piero.
It's 2nd vs 19th today. It's the second-highest scorers vs the second-worst defence. It's, in all probability, going to be a walk-over for Juventus. But don't let that stop you joining me. Novara have won two games since being promoted from Serie B, and they were against Inter and Parma, so theoretically, anything could happen. Could. Happen.
Afternoon everyone, and welcome to Goal.com's live, play-by-play coverage of Juventus vs Novara, all the way from the brand spanking new Juventus Arena. I'm Alex Mott and I'll be your commentator for today's game.
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