Serie A leaders extend lead at top of table with easy victory
Monday April 18 2016
Juventus 4 - 0 Palermo
Khedira 10 (J), Pogba 71 (J), Cuadrado 74 (J), Padoin 89 (J)
Juventus stuttered in the first half, but eventually swept Palermo aside 4-0 to go nine points clear at the top of the table.
As Napoli lost to Inter last night, Juve had the chance to extend their lead and place one hand on the Scudetto. Simone Zaza was suspended with Giorgio Chiellini, Roberto Pereyra, Neto and Martin Caceres injured, but Paulo Dybala and Sami Khedira were available again. Palermo sacked Walter Novellino after just four rounds and brought back Davide Ballardini, who was fired in February. Robin Quaison sat out a ban, though Franco Vazquez returned.
The Sicilians had lost their previous seven consecutive meetings with Juve, home and away, without scoring a single goal and conceding 13.
It was all Juve from the get-go and after a series of efforts charged down in the box, Paul Pogba’s chipped pass was chested down by Khedira to volley in with the right boot over Stefano Sorrentino. It was a splendid goal, his fifth of the season.
However, there was bad news for Juventus when Claudio Marchisio went into a tackle and seemed to sprain his knee badly. The Italy midfielder was stretchered off in evident pain to make way for Mario Lemina.
Juve seemed shell-shocked by that incident and lost their rhythm, as Palermo created a period of pressure and Gigi Buffon smothered an Ivaylo Chochev effort.
Pogba came very close with a volley into the ground on a corner that bounced off the crossbar with the aid of a Sorrentino fingertip.
Palermo thought they had equalised on the half-hour mark when Franco Vazquez sent Aleksandar Trajkovski through and the delicate finish beat Buffon, but Andrea Barzagli got back for a goal-line clearance.
Chochev gathered after a series of ricochets and his strike from 10 yards was deflected inches past the near top corner by Khedira.
Dybala’s free kick seemed perfect for Leonardo Bonucci to nod in, but Patrice Evra got there first and turned wide.
Dybala blasted well over from a promising position after the restart, while Pogba and Mario Lemina tried from distance. Giancarlo Gonzalez crucially intercepted a Juan Cuadrado cross for Khedira at the near post and on the resulting corner Mario Mandzukic’s free header was wide.
Just as the Juventus Stadium crowd started to get a little nervous, a Cuadrado corner was flicked on by Alvaro Morata for Pogba to tap in at the back post and double their lead.
The floodgates opened and Cuadrado added a third, his dummy sending Achraf Lazaar to ground before he curled into the far top corner.
Buffon also kept his clean sheet intact, fingertipping a Lazaar long-range strike over the bar.
Simone Padoin came off the bench to complete the rout, placing his right-foot angled drive into the far bottom corner after a fine Morata surge.
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Rugani; Cuadrado, Khedira (Padoin 78), Marchisio (Lemina 16), Pogba, Evra; Dybala (Morata 68), Mandzukic
Palermo: Sorrentino; Goldaniga (La Gumina 73), Gonzalez, Andelkovic; Rispoli, Hiljemark, Jajalo (Brugman 59), Chochev, Lazaar; Vazquez, Trajkovski