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Sassuolo 1 - 3 Juventus

Tuesday April 29 2014

Juventus fought back from a goal down to win 3-1 at Sassuolo in a hard-fought game, so can secure the Scudetto next week.

The Bianconeri rested Arturo Vidal, who has a knee problem, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Leonardo Bonucci ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final with Benfica, but kept many of their star names in the starting XI. Sassuolo were also highly motivated, out of the relegation zone only thanks to their head-to-head record with Bologna. Top scorer Domenico Berardi was suspended along with Simone Missiroli and Davide Biondini, while Marius Alexe, Paolo Bianco, Thomas Manfredini and Francesco Acerbi were injured.

The Neroverdi showed from the opening 90 seconds that they would push hard under heavy rain, as ex-Bayern Munich youth product Nicola Sansone flashed an angled drive across the face of goal to skim the far post.

Sassuolo took a shock lead after nine minutes, as Sansone won back possession and threaded through for Simone Zaza, whose angled drive took a deflection off Angelo Ogbonna to wrong-foot Gigi Buffon at the near post. Zaza is co-owned by Juventus and this was the quickest goal of the season for the home team.

Sansone dribbled past Giorgio Chiellini and Ogbonna, but the finish was wayward, as Sassuolo were playing at a visibly higher tempo than Juve. Chiellini knocked back from a set play for Carlos Tevez to drill just wide and Gianluca Pegolo smothered a Paul Pogba snapshot.

The Bianconeri were increasing the pressure and their possession statistics until Tevez unleashed a screamer from the D to fly past Pegolo, though this also took a slight deflection off Alessandro Longhi. It was Apache’s 19th Serie A goal of the season and was sparked by a quickly-taken free kick.

It was still wide open, though, as Zaza again dribbled through defenders down that left side of the box and this time his powerful finish stung Buffon’s palms at the near post.

The second half started in similar fashion, as Andrea Pirlo’s deflected effort looped into the air and wide of a wrong-footed Pegolo, then Sansone skipped past defenders in a give-and-go with Zaza to drill just over the bar. Zaza then misplaced his pass on a counter-attack when it was three against two.

Juve turned the game around completely, as Sassuolo were under pressure and Pirlo smartly chipped a pass over the top for Claudio Marchisio to keep his first time shot low across Pegolo.

Eusebio Di Francesco had to go all-out, so moved to a 4-2-4 system. Zaza received an inevitable booking for simulation when he threw himself over Buffon’s foot and Pegolo got down well to beat away a Marchisio strike.

Antonio Floro Flores pounced on an Ogbonna error to burst into the box, but his shot was charged down.

Tevez thought he’d doubled his tally when his swerving effort veered away from Pegolo, but bounced off the crossbar after some great build-up play from Pogba.

Ogbonna was having a lot of problems against Zaza and Floro Flores, so Antonio Conte replaced him with Leonardo Bonucci.

Juve did make it 3-1 with a magnificent goal, as Stephan Lichtsteiner pulled across the six-yard box for Fernando Llorente’s inspired backheel flick, leaving Pegolo with no chance. Conte showed what it meant to their season with a Jose Mourinho-style knee slide to celebrate.

Sergio Floccari’s fantastic first touch hooked a Zaza ball over the top, but Buffon showed great reactions to parry from point-blank range.

Source: Football Italia

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