A late header by defender Giorgio Chiellini was enough for Juventus to get all three points from a hard-fought derby against Torino and keep the title race alive.
Torino 0-1 Juventus
It was time for the Turin derby tonight at the Stadio Olimpico. Juventus needed all three points to keep the Scudetto race somewhat alive, after Inter won their away match at Genoa earlier this afternoon.
Nevertheless, coach Claudio Ranieri played a second-string team, perhaps in view of the looming Champions League clash against Chelsea, with Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta in attack, while Pavel Nedved, Alessandro Del Piero, and David Trezeguet all started from the bench. Meanwhile, Torino had Roberto Stellone and Alessandro Rosina up front in a 4-4-2 formation.
Juventus started the game strongly, with ‘Atomic Ant’ Sebastian Giovinco looking dangerous in the opening stages. In the second minute, he cut inside from the wing and let go a shot from outside the area that was well grabbed by Matteo Sereni.
A minute later, the youngster found Iaquinta inside the area with a good pass, and the striker fired a dangerous shot that forced a magnificent save from Sereni.
The "home side," in this case Torino, responded in the seventh minute as Stellone blew a huge chance, heading the ball over the bar from a great position on a corner kick.
Five minutes after that, World Cup winning midfielder Simone Barone fired a dangerous shot from outside the area that had to be tipped over the bar by Gianluigi Buffon. It was an entertaining match with chances for both sides at this stage.
Barone made himself dangerous again six minutes later, forcing Buffon into another decent save with a header on a great cross by Marco Pisano.
A massive chance fell to Iaquinta in the 26th minute, as he seemed sure to score with a well-placed header toward the bottom corner, but somehow Sereni managed to keep it out with some miraculous reflexes.
The latter part of the first half was considerably slower, and the next chance didn’t come until the 41st minute, when Claudio Marchisio tried his luck from a similar distance from where he scored the winner last week against Napoli, but this time there was no lucky deflection and the ball was easily grabbed by Sereni.
That was the last chance of a decent first half from both sides, particularly in the opening half an hour.
No changes were made during half-time by either coach. The second half continued in the same fashion as the second part of the first, both teams struggling to find any openings.
In the 47th minute, Amauri made himself dangerous as a latched on to a long pass inside the area, and fired the ball toward the near post, but Sereni was once again alert.
For about twenty minutes there were no chances of note, but in the 73rd minute Sereni had to perform heroics again to prevent Torino going behind. From a free-kick, defender Olof Mellberg headed the ball and Sereni managed to save it, but the real miracle came when the goalkeeper also denied Hasan Salihamidzic a seemingly certain goal on the rebound, tipping the ball onto the post.
Just when it seemed both sides were too tired to create any more chances, Juve opened the scoring in the 81st minute. Substitute Pavel Nedved sent in a free-kick from the left and Giorgio Chiellini headed the ball past Sereni, who got furious with his defenders for losing sight of Juve’s bulky centre-back.
Following this goal, the Bianconeri had no problems hanging on to their lead and secured a crucial victory that allows them to remain within seven points of Inter. Meanwhile, Torino are in 16th place with 24 points, but after tomorrow’s matches they may slip back into the relegation zone.
Torino (4-4-2): Sereni; Colombo, Natali, Dellafiore, Pisano; Abate, Corini (74’ Saumel), Dzemaili, Barone (70’ Gasbarroni); Stellone, Rosina (50’ Ventola). Coach: Novellino.
Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Zebina (59’ Ariaudo), Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro; Salihamidzic, Poulsen (83’ Sissoko), Marchisio, Giovinco (68’ Nedved); Amauri, Iaquinta. Coach: Ranieri.
Goals: 81’ Chiellini (J)
Booked: Corini, Pisano (T); Marchisio (J)
Danilo Pochini, Goal.com