Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Luca Cetta On April - 12 - 2012

Del Piero Puts Juventus in Control of Their Destiny

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Alessandro Del Piero has written yet another chapter in his storied Juventus career to ensure the Old Lady reclaimed top spot in Serie A after a thrilling 2-1 win over Lazio at the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday.

Coming on as a substitute in game number 700 in a Bianconeri shirt, Del Piero netted goal number 289. Arguably, it is one of his most important. It was also free kick number 42 which has been curled through and past a despairing goalkeeper over the years for the Turin club. Just as Antonio Conte noted after the match, the captain remains ever-vital for the Old Lady.

“It’s a great fortune for us to have him here. When you need to score, he’s your man. He has always been and will always be an added bonus for the team. If I ask him for a minute, five minutes, eight or a whole game, he always gives 100 per cent.”

Earlier, Simone Pepe acrobatically opened the scoring to culminate an opening 30 minutes dominated by Juventus. Only Federico Marchetti’s saves kept Lazio in the hunt and then, incredibly, Stefano Mauri found a glimmer of space inside the penalty area and it was all he needed to nod home the equaliser on the stroke of half time.

That was Juve’s first goal conceded in 577 minutes of Serie A action and it stunned the Bianconeri, who looked nervous during the second half. However, they dominated the match – with 67 per cent possession and 25 shots to seven – and eventually found their winner, even if the tactician felt it was going to be another match which slipped from their grasp.

The three points put Juve one ahead of Milan after their win over Chievo a day earlier. Juventus have the advantage after a run of five straight wins, which coupled with Milan’s dual slip-ups against Catania (1-1) and Fiorentina on the weekend (1-2), meant Conte’s men went from four points down to one in front.

Andrea Pirlo was once again superb as he assisted Pepe for his opener. He now has 11 season assists, just one behind Serie A’s leading creator in Fabrizio Miccoli. Midfield partner Arturo Vidal gave yet another spirited and gut-busting performance and almost capped it off with a spectacular goal from inside his own half.

Fabio Quagliarella was not on the scoreboard after two goals in his past two matches but was ever-present and led the attack diligently. At the back, Gianluigi Buffon once again had little to do as the defence cut-out most Lazio thrusts before they got dangerous. The back four did not look as assured as in recent matches and their one error almost proved costly, but Conte can be generally pleased.

Juve travels to Cesena on the weekend to face cellar-dweller Cesena. The Cavallucci are all but relegated yet will be up for this clash, just as they were last season when it ended 2-2. Leonardo Bonucci took a knock to the nose and will miss the trip after having an operation, otherwise Conte has a full squad to choose from. Juve will again play after Milan but now that they are in charge of their own destiny, know that only a win will suffice this week and for the rest of the season. And they know their inspirational captain is up to the task.

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