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Serie A

  • May 2, 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Stadio Olimpico, Roma
  • Referee: P. Mazzoleni
  • • Attendance: 28000

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

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

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Lazio controlled the game but end it with 10 men and in defeat to Juventus as the race for the fourth Champions League berth hots up in Italy

Lazio will feel hard done by after throwing away a game that they dominated as they went down 1-0 to Juventus, who had to rely on a late Simone Pepe strike to emerge victorious in Rome.

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

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

But it was the Roman side who started with force and effect as Hernanes drilled a low left-foot effort wide of Gianluigi Buffon's goal. Edy Reja's side continued to dominate the early possession, and a neat move from his men culminated in Mauro Zarate gliding past Felipe Melo, but his finish did not match the brilliant run before it as he blasted over.

Luigi Del Neri's men were backsliding for the most part as Lazio maintained their strong start. This time it was Ledesma who fired his effort wayward. 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. And when they did, they made the most to fall asleep again. Del Piero gave the ball away following some sloppy play when his side were attacking the opposition. Hernanes was grateful and sped off on the counter, but 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; barely 30 minutes had been played. If that was not a mockery, seeing Alessandro Del Piero helping in defence was a sign of how little progress his side were 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 who continued to enjoy much freedom.

Giorgio Chiellini made his return from injury after being out since March. And it 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 defence, however, his shot was wide.

The Brazil man was at the centre 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 referee as play continued.

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

Lazio were 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 loose ball past Muslera and keep Juve's hopes of Champions League football alive.

It was harsh on Lazio who had control on the game up until the sending off. Despite the loss, Reja's side still occupy fourth spot on the table, but they are now just one point ahead of Udinese and Roma, and four ahead of Juventus with three more rounds to play.

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