Juventus continue to keep off the pace of Serie A's title chasersJuventus manager Luigi Del Neri after his side lost 2-1 to Palermo tonight.
Despite dominating most of the game, the Bianconeri could not add to Claudio Marchisio's 36th-minute strike to complete a comeback after Fabrizio Miccoli and Giulio Migliaccio had scored to give Palermo an early two-goal lead.
Palermo sensed blood right from kick-off and took immediate advantage of Juventus’ low confidence by taking a seventh minute lead.
In-demand Argentinian Javier Pastore glided away from Marchisio and then breezed beyond Alberto Aguilani’s desperate lunge before picking out Miccoli’s darting run with a stunning clipped pass. The Rosanero captain controlled the ball with a perfect first touch and pushed the ball between Gianluigi Buffon’s legs to make it 1-0.
The away side forced their way into the game and Aquilani and Felipe Melo began to take control of the midfield and feed Milos Krasic, Alessandro Del Piero and Marchisio with the ammunition they needed to hurt the opposition.
But the Old Lady were taught a lesson in taking their chances when Migliaccio doubled Palermo’s lead in the 20th minute. The distinctively bald-headed midfielder rose above Giorgio Chiellini to plant a header past Buffon after Mattia Cassani had accepted Miccoli’s short corner and swung over an inch-perfect cross.
Juventus looked down and out, but it was at this stage that they took on the appearance of a wounded animal. Sensing they had nothing to lose, they began to snarl, bite and scratch in an attempt to fight their corner and take the game to the hosts.
Debutant, Alessandro Matri, should have halved the deficit in the 33rd minute when a loose ball broke to him at the far post. The Cagliari loanee was in acres of space but side-footed a weak effort straight at Salvatore Sirigu and the chance was gone.
Marchisio was cautioned in the 34th minute for roaring in the face of the referee after Juventus were denied a stonewall penalty when Cesare Bovo stretched out a hand to control the ball in the box.
But he quickly put the sense of injustice behind him and brought his side back into things by scoring two minutes later. Marchisio slammed the ball into the net through a thicket of Palermo legs after Sirigu had flapped at Del Piero’s inswinging corner.
Matri passed up a glorious chance to level the scores with just five seconds of the first half left, but he swiped at Zdenek Grygera’s cross while under pressure from Cassani and only succeeded in flicking the ball away from goal.
Fading hopes | Juventus fail to keep pace with Serie A leaders
The Bianconeri continued where they’d left off in the second half, but unfortunately for them, so did Matri.
With just two second half minutes gone, Krasic caught the Palermo defence napping, raced to the byline and cut back past Sirigu to Matri, for what appeared to be an easy goal. Matri side-footed towards the net, and although his effort was on target, it was weak and allowed Bovo to flick out a leg and deflect the ball wide with his heel.
Ten minutes later, Krasic found himself in a similar position, but rather than cross this time, he elected to go for goal himself, drawing a fine save from Sirigu with a powerful drive from what seemed an impossibly acute angle.
Although Juventus were dominating, Del Neri decided to make two changes in the 66th minute. He replaced Matri with Jorge Martinez and Aquilani with Mohamed Sissoko – and the changes appeared to knock his side out of their stride.
From then on, Palermo fought their back into the game and created three decent opportunities in quick succession: Pastore glanced a header wide; Miccoli tested Buffon with a thunderous drive in the 77th minute, and then curled wide with the goal gaping in the 82nd minute.
Juventus did, however, create two late chances to snatch a draw, but Martinez’s prodded effort from close range was well saved by Sirigu, who blocked with his feet, while Krasic hooked a left-footed shot agonisingly wide in the second minute of added on time.
The misses ensured that the Bianconeri would slip to their third successive defeat, leaving Del Neri’s position as Juventus manager hanging by a thread.
The race for European places continues at the weekend when Juventus make another arduous away journey to face Cagliari in Sardinia on Saturday evening. Palermo, meanwhile, travel north to face strugglers Lecce the following day.
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