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Serie A

  • May 2, 2011
  • • 2:45 PM
  • • Stadio Olimpico, Roma
  • Referee: P. Mazzoleni
  • • Attendance: 28000

Lazio 0-1 Juventus: Simone Pepe winner sinks 10-man Aquile to keep side in Champions League hunt

Lazio 0-1 Juventus: Simone Pepe winner sinks 10-man Aquile to keep side in Champions League hunt

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Lazio dominate the game but end it with 10 men and in defeat to Juventus

Lazio will feel hard done by after losing to Juventus which had to rely on a late Simone Pepe strike to win 1-0 in Rome.

The winger popped up just minutes before full time to help his side maintain hopes of a Champions League place and to leave the Aquile soured after Cristian Ledesma was sent off.

Both teams came into the game knowing they had to score points to keep ambitions of Champions League football alive - Juventus perhaps more than Lazio.

But, it was the Roman side which started with force and effect as Hernanes drilled a low effort wide of Gianluigi Buffon's goal. 

Luigi Del Neri's men were backsliding for the most part as Lazio maintained its strong start. This time it was Ledesma to fire his effort wayward as it seemed the frontmen were suffering from the same target missing syndrome as shots rained down on goal, but there was little yield.

Nerves were clear and they spread throughout Juve as the clock ticked on. Melo, so strong in midfield, showed his weaker side as he crunched Zarate under pressure. The resulting free kick was wasted though as the visitors were let off the hook once more.

The referee played his part too, hindering Zarate from shooting after crossing his path. Christian Brocchi was on hand to improvise as he pounced on the lose ball, but his shot was one to forget.

Clearly dormant, the Old Lady failed to come to life.

Del Piero gave the ball away following some sloppy play when his side was attacking the opposition. Hernanes was grateful and sped off with the ball, Juve escaped punishment thanks to Simone Pepe who did his best to make life tough for the Brazilian.

In one of the best moves of the game, Ledesma picked out a runner on the back stick and supplied the kind of cross poachers use to kill off teams. Unluckily for Lazio it was Brocchi and not Zarate who headed the ball, and it was painfully wide from close range.

By this time, Lazio had amassed eight shots on goal compared to Juve's zero and barely 30 minutes had been played. If that was not a mockery, seeing Alessandro Del Piero helping in defense was a sign of how little progress his side was making.

However, there were some signs of life appearing for Juve as Del Piero cut back across the box for Melo who fired over, but it was nothing compared to Lazio which continued to enjoy much freedom.

Giorgio Chiellini made his return from injury after being out since March. The rust showed as he was beaten far too easily by Zarate who again failed to turn a great chance into a goal.

Juventus should have gone ahead shortly after the restart. Melo found Grosso on the left and he provided the ammunition for Alessandro Matri who slid in, but failed to turn the ball past Nelson Muslera.

Brocchi continued to cause problems for Juve on the left. He should have put Lazio ahead as he went for the volley. It was a good idea, but it lacked all the accuracy it needed to trouble Buffon who looked relieved as the ball flew over.

Errors continued to make for a frustrating game for both teams. Melo was presented with a golden chance following a mistake by the Roman defense, however, his shot was wide.

The Brazil man was at the center of controversy when he went down inside the box under a challenge from Sergio Floccari, but the referee waved play on.

Minutes later, Floccari felt he should have been awarded a penalty as Chiellini lunged in. Again, the result was a confident frown from the ref as play continued.

Reja's side continued to press, but Buffon responded. Hernanes brought the best out of the Italy international as he flew across goal to tip strong shot around his post.

Lazio was reduced to 10 men with less than 10 minutes to go as Ledesma was sent off for a second yellow after a hard tackle on Melo.

It seemed to provide Juve with an instant energy hit as Toni went close. Just before the end Pepe stole in at the far post to bury a lose ball to keep Juve's hopes of Champions League football alive.

It was harsh on Lazio which had control on the game up until the sending off, but couldn't hold on for a positive result.

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