ROME - A late brace from Claudio Marchisio
sent Juventus back alongside Udinese at the top of Serie A after
deservedly defeating champions AC Milan 2-0 at their atmospheric
new arena on Sunday.
The Italy midfielder scored his first with a lucky ricochet
with three minutes to go after playing a one-two with Mirko
Vucinic before making the game safe in injury-time, firing a
25-metre volley through goalkeeper Christian Abbiati's legs.
"We deserved to score a long time before," Juve coach
Antonio Conte told Italy's Sky Sports TV.
"Our intensity and
approach were brilliant. We dominated possession, which was very
important against a side like Milan, but the best thing that
came from tonight was the way we played as a team."
The once mighty Turin side, seventh the last two terms, are
unbeaten under new boss Conte with three wins and two draws.
"I'm not looking too far ahead," added the ex-Juve player.
"The only promise I will give is to make the team competitive
because Juve deserve to be challenging among the best."
Earlier on Sunday, Udinese beat Bologna 2-0, while 2-0
victories for Cagliari and Palermo over Lecce and Siena helped
the island teams join Napoli within a point of the leaders.
A Sebastian Giovinco brace helped Parma beat Genoa 3-1 and
Lazio grabbed the three points at Fiorentina thanks to a late
Miloslav Klose header in a 2-1 win.
Encouraged by a noisy crowd, Juventus edged a fast-paced
opening quarter with ex-Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo coming
closest with two trademark long-range swervers that Abbiati had
to watch closely.
Juve's Vucinic, playing as the lone striker in Conte's 4-5-1
formation, came close to giving the home side the lead with two
sublime pieces of skill just after the half-hour mark.
First, on 33 minutes, the Montenegrin had Abbiati scrambling
to his left to save after turning sharply in the box and fizzing
a right-foot shot towards the corner.
Then, three minutes later, the ex-AS Roma man brought the
Turin crowd to their feet as he killed the ball 20 metres out
and bent a dipping shot against the underside of the Milan bar.
With the champions struggling to contain the inspired
forward, Vucinic's next trick was to shift the ball onto his
favoured right foot and fire a raking drive just wide of the
upright as Juve pressed for the all-important first goal.
Gianluigi Buffon came to Juve's rescue six minutes after the
restart, stretching out his giant hand to turn aside Boateng's
angled volley as a more aggressive Milan attempted to up the
Vucinic threatened again on 67 minutes after latching onto a
misplaced Mark van Bommel back-pass but the lightning fast Thiago
Silva recovered to save the Dutchman's blushes.
Juventus continued to dominate and Chilean midfielder Arturo
Vidal saw two long-range efforts flash wide as the pace slowed
with a quarter of an hour to go.
On 80 minutes Vucinic thought he had won it but could only
hold his head in his hands as his shot from just outside the box
bounced the wrong side of the post.
But the Bianconeri's luck changed dramatically in the final
stages as Marchisio, running on to Vucinic's pass, deflected
Daniele Bonera's clearance into the net on 87 minutes.
With seconds remaining Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng, who had
already been booked for dangerous play, was giving his marching
orders for catching Giorgio Chiellini with his hand before
Marchisio compounded the champions' misery.
"This was our worst performance of the year," Milan coach
Massimiliano Allegri said. "We didn't play at the right rhythm
and gave the ball away too much. We played badly both in defence
"We have to improve and fortunately there's now a break next
week that will help us regroup."
Goals from Mehdi Benatia and Antonio Di Natale sealed
Moroccan defender Benatia opened the scoring with a rare
goal on 29 minutes, poking the ball home from a corner before
striker Di Natale settled the contest with a 72nd-minute penalty
to give Udinese 11 points from five games.
Promoted Novara and Catania played out a six-goal thriller
in the early kick-off with Alejandro Gomez equalising for the
Sicilians in injury-time after second-half goals from two
ex-Catania players Takayuki Morimoto and Jeda had looked like
giving the hosts the win.
In Saturday's games, Napoli defeated Inter Milan 3-0 at the
San Siro while Roma recorded their second straight victory,
beating Atalanta 3-1.
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