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Juventus 2-1 Lazio: Super-sub Alessandro Matri gives Bianconeri Coppa Italia glory

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After 20 years of waiting and two halves of extra time, Juventus managed to win the Coppa Italia against a spirited Lazio, adding the Silver Star to their kit for the 10th such success.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

I could tell you how nobody believed in Massimiliano Allegri when he was appointed as Antonio Conte’s replacement in the summer and how he, with small but steady steps, successfully steered Juventus on three different fronts towards glory.

I could tell you how he managed to build on the already-great performances of the previous three seasons and transform Juventus into a real Champions League contender. How he kept the players hungry for more success, how he ensured everyone got enough playing time to feel they are part of the Bianconera family, resting at the same time players who needed fresh legs and a sharp mind for other more crucial games.

I could tell you how, after 20 years of waiting, this fantastic team finally secured the Silver Star by becoming the first team in Italy’s history to win 10 Coppas. I could tell you how Alessandro Matri had to be the decisive man in the final, after he re-joined the group in January, proving himself once more as a valuable squad player and a true character loved in the dressing room.

I could tell you how Giorgio Chiellini breaks his nose every 10 games and continues to ravage opposite attacking players, giving his all for the team with that reckless and loony style of his, scoring the odd goal now and then -- the goal that will undoubtedly bring the fierce beast out of him as he bursts into savage celebrations. I could tell how much he deserved to lift that Coppa trophy after all the blood he spilled for Juventus on the pitch.

I could tell you how Andrea Pirlo and Allegri embraced each other in joy after the full time whistle and how such a scene would have been simply impossible in 2011 when Allegri, then manager at Milan, considered Massimo Ambrosini and Mark Van Bommel more suited for the role in front of the defence, forcing the departure of the bearded magician and, subsequently and involuntarily, helping Juventus in building the foundations for a team that would go on and win four consecutive Scudetti.

I could yell, "La Decima! La Decima! La Decima!" at you all night -- metaphorically speaking, this time, otherwise it might just look silly -- but I have to remind you "Andiamo a Berlino! Andiamo a Berlino! Andiamo a Berlino!".

I could tell you all that and many more but it would be pointless.

Superfluous.

In such times, words are useless. Words are not enough to describe how lucky we are for living years of remarkable success and for witnessing history in the making. Andrea Agnelli, Beppe Marotta, Fabio Paratici, Pavel Nedved, everybody involved in the club’s board and every single player who wore the Juventus shirt in the last five years --and whom I will not enumerate here for it will make this post too long -- have made the dreams of every single tifoso Bianconero come true.

For that, and for everything that is yet to come, grazie mille!

MATCH SUMMARY

Stringiamci a coorte

Siam pronti alla morte

Siam pronti alla morte

L'Italia chiamò! Sì!

The intonation of the national anthem before the game sent shivers down my spine -- an electrifying effect.

And if that was electrifying, the goal scored by Lazio captain Stefan Radu in the fourth minute was nothing short of a lighting struck. Paul Pogba conceded a free-kick on Juventus’ left flank some 35 yards out. Danilo Cataldi delivered the ball into the box and Radu rose from between Pirlo and Pogba to direct a splendid header which Marco Storari could only palm into the roof of the net.

However, Lazio’s advantage lasted for a short period as Chiellini equalised in the 11th minute. Pirlo took a free kick from a similar position to Cataldi’s and found Evra at the far post. The Frenchman redirected the ball in front of the goal for Chiellini who acrobatically sent it past a helpless Etrit Berisha, with a would-be overhead kick.

The frantic start did not affect either set of players, as the teams kept up the high tempo. Pressing, fouls and misplaced passes governed the game and Lazio seemed to be the team with the initiative.

Patrice Evra found Fernando Llorente in the box with a good cross in the 25th minute but the Spaniard couldn’t direct his header on target. A minute later, Felipe Anderson was presented with a shooting opportunity just outside Juventus’ box but the Brazilian sent the ball miles over the bar.

Just moments afterwards, Storari was called into action to stop Cataldi’s weak shot after a good quick counter attack from the Biancocelesti.

Just over the half hour mark, Pogba tried to stop a high ball on his chest but involuntarily assisted Marco Parolo at the edge of the area and the Italian midfielder sent a powerful shot that missed the target by a few inches. Nonetheless, the recklessness of Pogba managed to draw an angry reaction from Allegri.

In the 40th minute, Pogba played a ball through for Evra who cut it back first time for Carlos Tévez but the Argentine uncharacteristically skied his shot way over the target from a good position. Five minutes later, Daniele Orsato sent the two teams to the locker rooms for the half-time break, ending a tough first part for Juventus.

The game was a bit cooled down at the start of the second half and it took 10 minutes until Juventus created the first half-decent chance, as Pogba headed a ball over the bar after a cross from Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Leonardo Bonucci stopped a dangerous attacking action of Lazio by bringing down Antonio Candreva in the 64th minute and was shown a yellow card. However, the free-kick came to nothing as Santiago Gentiletti completely missed the target.

Neither of the teams were willing to risk too much and chances were few and far between, with Juventus a bit more active in the centre of the park.

Having just replaced Miroslav Klose, Filip Djordjevic wasted a huge chance for Lazio in the 84th minute when he followed a long ball inside Juventus’ area but his shot was very poor and Storari did well to block the Serbian striker.

With three minutes left to play, Roberto Pereyra dribbled his way inside Lazio’s box but his low cross found nobody in front of the goal. Pirlo got hold of the loose ball and delivered a fantastic ball over the top for Alessandro Matri who scored with his first touch, only to see the referee’s assistant raising the flag for offside – a very close call.

Tévez cut inside from the left flank in the second minute of injury time and sent a ferocious shot but the Argentine couldn’t keep his effort on target. Orsato blew the full-time whistle shortly afterwards and the two teams headed towards extra time.

In the 94th minute, Djordjevic’s thunderous effort from distance beat Storari but hit the right and then the left post before the ball was cleared away.

Just three minutes later, Matri sent the Bianconeri in wild celebrations. Tévez’s initial shot from inside the box was blocked by the defence but the ball bounced back to Matri who beat his man with the first touch and then put his shot past Berisha to give Juventus the lead.

Lazio’s pressure started to mount after the goal and the Bianconeri were forced to defend deep in their half.

In the 110th minute, Tévez found lots of space on the counter but his good run on the left flank came to a halt when Candreva fouled the Argentine just outside the box. Pirlo stepped up to take the free-kick but his effort was punched away by Berisha.

The Biancocelesti did little to create a threat for Storari’s goal in the dying minutes and Juventus went on to win the game, finally being rewarded with their 10th Coppa Italia.

LE PAGELLE

Storari: 6 Got a touch at the goal, but was unable to keep the ball out. Very confident whenever he was called into action

Barzagli: 6.5 Steady as always at the back, containing Anderson on the right and distributing the ball well from the back

Bonucci: 6 Very poor start in the game but managed to get a grip on himself and had a solid second (third and fourth) part

Chiellini: 7.5 Scored a brilliant goal and was very solid at the back, pulling off some great tackles

Lichtsteiner: 5.5 Defended well but his runs forward were cut short because of the danger represented by Anderson

Vidal: 6 Very energetic, but committed fouls often. His presence in midfield focused on the defensive play, bringing very few to the attack

Pirlo: 6.5 Made up for the poor defending at the goal conceded with a good delivery for Chiellini’s strike. Played some great long balls over Lazio’s backline and distributed the ball with ease in midfield

Pogba: 5 Shares the blame with Pirlo for the goal. Inconsistent in midfield, alternating good defending with poor passing game

Evra: 6.5 Great positioning to assist the goal. Equally good presence on the left flank against Candreva throughout the game and also surged forward effectively

Tévez: 7 Missed a huge chance in the first half but his commitment was immense. Often retreated to his own half to defend or help the build-up play

Llorente: 5.5 Barely visible in the first half as the Spaniard found little space between Lazio’s centre backs. Improved in the second part but still managed little

Subs

Pereyra: 6.5 Very lively in the attack after he replaced Pogba in the 78th minute.

Matri: 7.5 SCORED THE BLOODY WINNING GOAL

Padoin: N/A Replaced Lichtsteiner in the 115th minute

Coach

Allegri: 6.5 Was probably surprised to see Lazio pressing so high and playing with such intensity in the first half but managed to regain control of the game after the break. Pereyra and Matri have changed the course of the game after they were brought on, adding to numerous previous occasions when Mister made inspired in-game decisions.