Juventus and Roma have been in a class of their own over the last year, as they went head-to-head in the race for the Scudetto — one that Juventus brilliantly managed to win for the third season in a row. The big gap in quality between them and the rest of the Serie A was further deepened, with both teams winning their first five games of this season, playing some great football, drawing a clear line in terms of quality between them and other teams in Italy.
But another line was needed to be drawn Sunday night, this time between the two of them, as Juventus and Roma faced each other in Turin, with the first spot at stake. The Old Lady edged Roma in an unbelievable encounter, a proper clash of titans, which saw five goals scored, three penalties awarded and two red cards handed out by referee Gianluca Rocchi, and a late thunderous effort from Leonardo Bonucci to secure the three points.
Both teams were coming from tough away fixtures in UEFA Champions League — Juventus lost 1-0 against Atletico Madrid, while Roma put in a good performance against Manchester City to secure a 1-1 draw. There were only three days of rest for the Bianconeri and four for Giallorossi before Sunday’s game, but that didn’t stop either team to put in some spirited displays in an encounter which won’t be forgotten by fans any time soon.
Max Allegri deserves credit for managing to call up his players after the defeat from midweek. It was certainly seen on the pitch, as Juventus were hungry to prove their worth over Roma, playing on the front foot and despite the fact the away side was thriving with confidence before the game, they eventually succumbed to defeat.
Juventus are going into the international break top of the Serie A with a three-point lead over Roma – the scenario we all expected. And with relative facile fixtures against Sassuolo, Palermo, Genoa and Empoli coming up next, things could hardly look better for Bianconeri. Allegri is slowly but steady getting a grip over the situation.
It was a terrific atmosphere on Juventus Stadium, as fans prepared a fantastic choreography in the stands. However, the game had a little bit of a cagey start, with both teams trying to figure each other out and we had to wait until the 22nd minute for the first chance of the game. Bonucci played a great long ball behind the defenders for the onrushing Claudio Marchisio, whose first-time effort went just wide of the far post.
Juventus were pressing high up the pitch, trying to give Roma no chance to counter, and with 25 minutes in, Francesco Totti brought down Andrea Pirlo, outside Roma’s penalty box. Pirlo sent the ball from the resulted free-kick into the wall, where it hit Maicon’s hand, forcing Rocchi to point to the spot, as the Brazilian was inside the box. Carlos Tevez coolly converted the penalty sending Lukasz Skorupski the wrong way and giving Juventus the lead. Roma manager Rudi Garcia made an odd gesture, as he was pretending to play an invisible violin, suggesting the referee was biased towards Juventus. He was shortly sent off by Rocchi for protests.
The home side’s lead didn’t last long, however, as after just five minutes, Stephan Lichtsteiner appeared to be dragging Totti down in the box and Roma were awarded a penalty; Lichtsteiner received a yellow card. Totti levelled the scoring, making no mistake from the spot, only to be booked for wildly celebrating his goal.
Players from both teams lost their cool after the equalizer goal and strong tackles were flying in. It looked like Rocchi couldn’t control the match anymore. With one minute before the break, Gervinho cut inside from the left flank and split Juventus’ backline with a through ball for Juan Iturbe, who scored with a powerful shot at the near post to give Roma the lead.
At the last action of the first half, Rocchi awarded another penalty for the Bianconeri, much to the frustration of the away side, when Miralem Pjanic brought Paul Pogba down right on the line of the penalty area. Tevez stepped up again to convert the penalty, bringing the score line to a level again.
With players from both teams being very on the muscle, the break came right on time and managed to cool down the spirits a bit. Angelo Ogbonna replaced Martin Caceres, as the Uruguayan pulled his hamstring during the first half.
Pjanic missed the first big chance of the second half on the hour mark, when Gervinho dribbled past Ogbonna in the Juventus’ box and cut the ball back for the Bosnian, who shot just wide of the post.
Roma were happy to defend for the majority of the second half and try to hit the Old Lady on counters, who had some problems creating clear scoring chances. Alvaro Morata replaced his out-of-form compatriot Fernando Llorente and had a huge opportunity to give Juventus the lead with 10 minutes left to play. Lichtsteiner played a great cross for the Spaniard who rose above the defenders and headed the ball from 11 yards straight on top of the crossbar.
Five minutes from time, Tevez had two consecutive efforts from inside the box blocked and won a corner for Juventus. From the resulting corner-kick, the ball arrived at Bonucci just outside the penalty area, who scored with a thunderous first-time volley, placed in the bottom corner.
Bonucci’s great goal made Roma players lose their cool again and after just two minutes, Konstantinos Manolas overreacted at Morata’s sliding challenge and the referee sent both of them off, although a red card for Morata was a bit too harsh.
Roma had no energy to push for an equalizer and Gianluca Rocchi blew the final whistle of a fantastic encounter after four minutes of extra-time.
Buffon: 6.5 Roma’s shots on target were both goals and Buffon had nothing to do. Wasn’t really tested throughout the match.
Caceres: 6 Couldn’t really keep up with Gervinho’s pace, but was unlucky to get injured and had to be replaced at the break.
Bonucci: 7.5 Very solid defensively, although caught napping at Iturbe’s goal. Made up for it and brought the three points with a fantastic shot.
Chiellini: 7 Made quite a few important interceptions and challenges, but got booked for a rough challenge.
Lichtsteiner: 6.5 Made his presence felt in attack on a few occasions, but was really clumsy in his duel with Totti which resulted in a penalty.
Marchisio: 6.5 Played for the first time this season out of his regista role and couldn’t really influence the play. Missed a good chance in the first half, but otherwise a quiet evening.
Pirlo: 6.5 Regained his spot in the centre of midfield after recovering from an injury. Although he won the first penalty, Pirlo couldn’t find any trademark through balls to put his team mates in a clear scoring position.
Pogba: 6.5 Was rather quite for the second time this week, as he couldn’t impose his usual powerful presence. Managed to draw a foul from Pjanic for the second penalty.
Asamoah: 6.5 Found himself a few times in good position down the left flank but instead of trying to run at defence, opted for the safe pass.
Tevez: 8 Managed two score a brace again and was always involved in attacking actions, coming deep to pick up the ball. Was the most active Juventus player.
Llorente: 5.5 Another frustrating evening for the Spaniard, who seemed very lacklustre and slow. Couldn’t link up with any of his team mates.
Ogbonna: 6.5 Replaced Caceres at the break and put in a decent display against Gervinho. Didn’t have that much to do either.
Morata: 6.5 Failed to make his mark before hitting the crossbar with the header. However, was more lively than Llorente. Shouldn’t have been sent off, although his challenge was a bit clumsy.
Vidal: N/A Came in with 10 minutes to play but had no impact on the game.
Allegri: 7.5 Starting Pirlo, who just recovered from injury, ahead of Vidal raised some eyebrows before the game, but proved to be a good decision eventually. Allegri did a great job on the psychological side of his players, who managed to put the lose against Atletico aside. He replaced Llorente after an hour, but the Spaniard could have come off earlier. Demanded the team to press high up the field with great effect. Good recovery from midweek’s nightmare.
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