The Italy International's first half strike was enough to see off hosts, as the Old Lady return to the summit of Serie AJuventus defeated Lazio 1-0 in a thrilling encounter at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday evening, as Simone Pepe's 34th minute goal ensured the Antonio Conte's men leapfrog Udinese to retake top spot in Serie A.
The game began as a real end to end encounter, with both sides getting forward at every opportunity, but it wasn’t until the eighth minute that an attempt on goal was registered, a poor pass from Arturo Vidal fell to Hernanes, but the Brazilian long distance drive flew over the bar.
Minutes later and the away side went close to taking the lead, a great run and cross from Stephan Lichtsteiner as met by Claudio Marchisio, but the Italy international’s powerful header went just wide.
Just before the 20 minute mark, the visitors almost went in front again, Federico Marchetti produced an outstanding save to deny Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick before Lichtsteiner missed a glorious opportunity from the rebound, dragging his effort wide.
The hosts were now starting to get into the game and were unlucky to not be in front, when Thomas Rocchi, found himself in space just inside the box and managed to lift the ball over the on rushing Gianluigi Buffon but the captain’s effort was blocked by Andrea Barzagli
On 34 minutes the away side took the lead through Pepe, a great counter attacking move from the visitors led to Alessandro Matri finding himself in space on the left flank, before his inch perfect cross fell to the former Udinese winger, who slotted past Marchetti into the bottom corner.
The game started to slow down a little after Pepe’s opener, ensuring the visitors took a one goal lead into the break.
The second half began with the visitors controlling the game and they could have doubled their lead a minute after the restart, but Matri’s shot on the turn sailed just over the Lazio goal.
The hosts then started to impose themselves on the game, with Hernanes looking particulary dangerous, the Brazilian had a great chance to level the tie in the 51st minute but the former Sao Paulo playmaker’s effort was denied by an excellent block from Barzagli.
The home side were unlucky to not be on level terms, and were close to equalising twice in the space of minute, first Hernanes struck the post with a powerful drive, before Buffon pulled of a great save to deny Mirolsav Klose’s curled strike from the edge of the box.
With 20 minutes to go the away side almost doubled their advantage, when a great ball from Pepe found substitute Emanuele Giaccherini but the former Cesena wingers drive was parried away by Marchetti.
With just over five minutes to go the visitors spurned another chance to kill the game off, a great ball from Marchisio found Matri just outside the box, who created some space for himself with a neat turn before unleashing a powerful strike which struck the outside of the post.
The visitors managed to hang on to their slender lead, to pick up a vital three points despite some late pressure from the hosts to regain the top spot in Serie A, the league leaders now face another tough away fixture as they travel to Napoli next time round, while third placed Lazio will hope to return to winning ways at home to Novara in the next round of Serie A.
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