The Italy International's first half strike was enough to see off the hosts in the top of the table clash, as the Old Lady returned 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 either side registered an attempt on goal, as a poor pass from Arturo Vidal fell to Hernanes, but the Brazilian's long distance drive flew over the bar.
Minutes later, the away side went close to taking the lead, a great run and cross from Stephan Lichtsteiner was 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, but 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, when a great counter attacking move from the visitors led to Alessandro Matri finding himself in space on the left flank. 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 particularly dangerous. The Brazilian had a great chance to level the score in the 51st minute but the former Sao Paulo playmaker’s effort was denied by an excellent block from Barzagli.
The home side weas unlucky to not be on level terms, and went close to equalizing twice in the space of a minute. First, Hernanes struck the post with a powerful drive before Buffon pulled of a great save to deny Mirolsav Klose’s curling strike from the edge of the box.
With 20 minutes to go the away side almost doubled its advantage, when a great ball from Pepe found substitute Emanuele Giaccherini, but the former Cesena winger's drive was parried away by Marchetti.
With just over five minutes to go the visitors spurned another chance to kill the game off, as 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 leader now faces another tough away fixture as it travels 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.