Alessandro Matri was around the last time Juventus played in a Coppa Italia final. Of Juve's five strikers on the roster in the 2011-12 season, he was the only one not to have appeared in the final three years ago, one that his team lost to Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Same stadium. Different opponent. Different outcome. Much different outcome.
Matri's extra-time goal gave Juventus and 2-1 win over Lazio in extra time and delivered its long-desired and long-awaited 10th Coppa Italia title on Wednesday night. Yes, Matri, the same one Juventus sold to Milan two summers ago. The same Matri that Juventus brought back in the winter transfer window because somebody needed to fill the shoes — not literally, of course, because those things are probably tiny — of Sebastian GIovinco departing for Major League Soccer.
And the same Matri who had what looked to be the go-ahead goal called offside — rightly or wrongly — just a short time before he found the back of the net in extra time.
That's rather efficient, don't you think?
Matri proved to be the hero on a night where Juventus were far from their best. In a way, it was like Juve's win over Inter in the Derby d'Italia a few days before — it wasn't pretty or anything close to it, but they just seemed to find a solution after falling behind extremely early in the game.
So, basically, Lazio scored too early? Well, maybe.
Who would have guessed Giorgio Chiellini would score that kind of goal to even the score at 1-1 just minutes after Lazio took the lead? I mean, Chiellini doing that ... not exactly something we see every day. Or every month. Or every year. for that matter. It was one of the most un-Chiellini-like goals he has scored in his career.
It helped Juventus have the chance to win their 10th Coppa Italia. And Matri clinched the game, the domestic double this season and the silver star that comes along with la Decima.
Just like we thought would happen in mid-July, right? (Right.)
Random thoughts and observations
- Juventus won the Coppa Italia final without two of their best and most in-form players, Claudio Marchisio and Álvaro Morata. Squad depth is a beautiful thing, man.
- Will Juventus have any room on their jerseys next season? There are about to be patches and badges galore. Club badge, Scudetto badge, Coppa Italia badge, silver star, maybe some gold stars and the sponsorship logo across the middle of the jersey itself. That's just amazing. And who knows, there could be more to come if everything goes right in a couple of weeks.
- Juventus got the winning goal from a guy who is on loan from Milan. Thanks, Silvio.
- Juventus won the club's first Coppa Italia in 20 years thanks in large part to a guy who used to manage at Milan. Thanks, Silvio.
- Matri's goal in the second half wasn't offside. There's my hot take of the day.
- Arturo Vidal had nine — count 'em NINE — tackles against Lazio. The next closest Juventus player? Chiellini, who had all of two tackles. Arturo Vidal gonna Arturo Vidal simply because he's a tank who never stops running all over the field.
- The BBC defensive trident of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Chiellini combined to have 28 clearances on Wednesday night. That's why Max Allegri went with a 3-5-2. It's never a bad thing to have those three guys playing at the same time when you're trying to keep a team from scoring more than one goal and/or defending a lead.
- Roberto Pereyra is going to have his contract bought in full by Juventus this summer. No. this isn't some kind of inside information. It's simply common logic. Why? Because Pereyra showed once again why he's such a valuable player to have in the squad — no matter if it's in the starting lineup or coming off the bench. Along with Matri, Pereyra made a huge impact off the bench. He won't have the stats or goals to show it like Matri, but Pereyra was a big-time injection of energy when Juventus needed it.
- Carlos Tévez didn't have a great game, but he sure is great to watch no matter what. He was flying around the field like Vidal until the final whistle. What amazing stamina you must have to play like that for 120 minutes.
- Another solid game from Patrice Evra. I'll just keep saying this because he deserves it.
- The 20-year wait is over. Coppa Italia No. 10 is finally heading back to Turin. What a season it has been. And guess what? It's not over yet. Almost, but there's one big prize still to play for.