Miccoli 60, Budan 81
Both sides had it all too play for, the elusive fourth place. The start of the game gave the impression Juventus were determined to get that final place into Europe, but all the injuries that the Bianconeri have suffered of late played a significant part in the final result. Juve were without the imposing Gianluigi Buffon, Martin Caceres, Claudio Marchisio, Vicenzo Ianquinta, Sebastian Giovinco, Christian Poulsen, Antonio Chimenti and Amauri. The latter had just seemed to be returning to form and scoring goals when he fell foul to a thigh strain in last week’s Europa League game against Ajax.
The first half saw Juve apply pressure, maybe too much. Antonio Candreva put in an overzealous challenge in the first five minutes, starting the game with a yellow card. Juve had a lot of possession but lacked the creativity and conviction to do anything productive with it. In the eighth minute an attempt on goal by Candreva was blocked and another attempt by Felipe Melo was stopped again. Both were made possible by Diego. Then again on the 13th minute an attempt on goal was made by Candreva, assisted by the little Brazilian. Diego had seemed to be one of the few portals of creativity that Juve had left, so it was puzzling when Alberto Zaccheroni took him off in the 89th minute and replaced him with Jonathan Zebina- a defender.
Palermo did not start this game with a lot of confidence. They often gave the ball away, allowing Juve to attack. Luck played a major part for the Rosanero as Juve let chances go by. On the 31st minute it seemed to be all Palermo, but it ended up as back at the keeper. After the break Juve seemed rather panicked, the idea that just one point separates these two teams seemed to have dawned on them, but instead of coming out fighting they seemed to back off and the Rosanero had taken the driver’s seat.
Palermo applied more pressure. Then on the hour mark a screamer from Fabrizio Miccoli went past Alex Manninger and from then on it was advantage Palermo. It was up to Juve to react, and react they did when three minutes later Fabio Cannavaro of all people made it 1-1. But it was chalked of for off-side, as it was later made clear that Alessandro Del Piero was standing in the way of the Palermo keeper, obstructing his view and interfering with play. Juve twice had the opportunity to restore the balance but the lacked the final bit of inspiration and were severely punished for not taking full advantage of all the chances they had in the first half.
Igor Budan came on for Miccoli in the 80th minute and immediately made his present felt when just a minute later he scored Palermo’s second goal. He ran past Manninger and slotted the ball into an empty net, leaving the Juve custodian red faced.
Juve have now fallen back down to fifth place. After all the talk of a revival, they handed fourth place to Palermo with an embarrassing home defeat.