All the elements for a dramatic nail-biter were there: Massimiliano Allegri's first game back at his former employers, with three-time champions Juventus visiting a Milan side that appeared rejuvenated in the last two games under new manager Filippo Inzaghi, whose playing days were curtailed by Allegri a couple of years ago.
Juventus dominated the game as expected, though Inzaghi's curious tactics of sitting too deep in the second half of the game will come under scrutiny in the following days. Pippo's side is not necessarily blessed with too much quality, but the former striker has managed to squeeze some determination out of his players and the way Milan hurled themselves after the ball showed there might still be some hope for the Rossoneri.
Allegri will be relieved in the end to have picked up three points after it looked like this would be one more of the numerous games Juve have played against provinciale sides over the last couple of years with ten (sometimes eleven) men behind the ball. The magic of Andrea Pirlo was missed today as the Old Lady sometimes struggled for inspiration to break down the two lines of five that the home side presented. On this day though, luckily for Juve, superstar referee Nicola Rizzoli did not fall for Milan's late-game antics and kept the game in check.
Milan for their part have looked better this year after an abysmal 2013-14 season - this game generated plenty of buzz, the San Siro selling out with a Serie A record for ticket sale income €3.2m. With all the offseason additions and no European distractions, Milan should do better than finishing 45 points adrift of Juventus like last season.
Roberto Pereyra got the start instead of a supposedly fit Arturo Vidal in the middle, while Giorgio Chiellini finally played in his first game of the Serie A season, slotting back into his customary position on the left of the back three. Meanwhile, Pippo decided to go with an ultra-conservative three-man midfield — Sulley Muntari and Andrea Poli playing alongside Nigel De Jong in the middle of a 4-3-3 is hardly an attacking lineup.
The opening quarter of hour was marked by hard challenges flying in on both sides. Juventus and Milan were both looking determined to protect their unbeaten records, with the home team getting the first clear chance of the game just before the half hour mark. Muntari's cross into the box hovered tantalizingly for Keisuke Honda to sneak in but his header was brilliantly palmed away by the otherwise-idle Gianluigi Buffon.
Juve were in their ascendancy in this back-and-forth half, with the lively Pereyra at the heart of most of their creative efforts. Milan's veteran goalie Christian Abbiati first saved from Fernando Llorente and then pushed away a shot from Pereyra before watching helplessly as Claudio Marchisio strode through and crashed his shot off the post.The half was marred for Juventus as in-form defender Martin Caceres had to leave the game favoring his right leg, with Angelo Ogbonna stepping in for him.
In the second half, it was Milan that looked like they had played a midweek Champions League game as they retreated into a deep shell and allowed Juventus to spray the ball around as they probed for an opening in the backline. The away team were missing the critical last pass time and again as they failed to penetrate the massed ranks. It was going to take a magical touch to get the breakthrough, and on 71 minutes Paul Pogba duly obliged with a sublime return pass that allowed the warrior Carlos Tevez through on goal to neatly slot past Abbiati.
Just minutes earlier Inzaghi had taken off a poor Stephan El Sharaawy for new signing midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura as he looked ready to settle for the point. The goal prompted him to throw on on-loan striker Fernando Torres and then veteran Giampaolo Pazzini, but couldn't create any clear-cut chances. Allegri brought on Arturo Vidal and Romulo to close out the game which Juve duly did.
Buffon: 7 - A seven again, but once again had little to do - stepped up superbly when needed though.
Caceres: 7.5 - Has been on an excellent run of form and kept El Shaarawy under wraps while he on the pitch.
Bonucci: 8 - Stellar performance today, in command at the back and always looked in charge when playing the ball out of the back. Ensured the dangerous Jeremy Menez had nowhere to go.
Chiellini: 7 - Chiello looked a little rusty in his first League outing, but made a couple of crucial interceptions.
Lichtsteiner: 7.5 - The cliche never gets old with the Swiss wingback - same solid effort, every game.
Pereyra: 7.5 - Best game so far from Pereyra - looked particularly lively in the first half, unlucky not to have a goal.
Marchisio: 8 - Really came into his own in the second half, is quite enjoying his Pirlo-replacement role.
Pogba: 7.5 - Was surprisingly quiet in the first half, but when afforded the time and space on the ball in the second half, he terrorized the Milan defenders.
Asamoah: 6.5 - The Ghanaian put in a functional performance, giving Juve a creative outlet on the left wing.
Tevez: 8 - Nigel De Jong had called him a 'warrior' pre-game, and he lived up to his billing, obliging with a goal too.
Llorente: 7 - The Spaniard does a couple of things, but does them really well. His hold-up play was fantastic as always, but struggled to get away from Cristian Zapata.
Ogbonna: 7 - The left-footed defender fit in seamlessly despite having to come into the game after half an hour and playing on the right.
Vidal: N/A - He looked rusty, but Juve fans will be glad to just see him on the pitch again.
Romulo: N/A - Made his Serie A debut for Juve. Looked like he was trying too hard, which can hardly be faulted.
Allegri: 7 - This rating will start to drop the longer we see Juve go without any changes from previous seasons. Today's performance looked like any one of numerous away games the Bianconeri have played against inferior opposition that cede possession to them, 59% today. Allegri still doesn't show that he has any new ideas on how to break down the opposition in games like that.