Del Piero scores on Valentine’s Day as Genoese hearts are broken

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Juvebadge

JUVENTUS 3
Amauri 42, Del Piero 61, 77 (P)

Genoabadge

GENOA 2
Rossi 16, 63

Sunday afternoon’s encounter saw Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero dominate the headlines as he marked a record 445th Serie A appearance for the Bianconeri with a brace to propel his struggling side up to fifth place in Serie A.

Both these sides went into the game level on 35 points, and despite Juve Coach Alberto Zaccheroni keeping one eye on the forthcoming Europa League encounter away to Ajax, he opted to field a full-strength side in a bid to make up ground on Sampdoria who occupied that elusive fourth and final Champions League place.

Sticking with the attacking 3-4-1-2 formation which had yet to yield a goal from open-play under his stewardship, Zaccheroni was nonetheless encouraged by his side’s attacking play in the previous two games and placed his faith in his two roaming wing-backs Paolo De Ceglie and Martin Cáceres – the latter living up to his ‘utility-man’ tag by playing in his third position since his arrival during the summer. However, for all of their attacking intent it was Genoa who looked most likely to break the deadlock, coming close when Marco Rossi half-volleyed against the bar nine minutes in. They the went one better six minutes later, taking the lead when Marco Rossi latched onto a pull-back from Robert Acquafresca. It was no more than the visitors and Rossi himself deserved in a game they were in control of since the opening minute.

Cáceres was starting to find more space on the right flank and made the most of it when he crossed for Amauri to head in his first goal since October. It was a much-needed boost for both the under-fire Brazilian and the Bianconeri, as the Grifoni were beginning to take advantage of the home side’s nervousness in front of their vociferous, if somewhat hostile home crowd. In a bid to appease the tifosi, the Bianconeri started the second half with vigour as they pressed forward at every opportunity through some excellent play, with Diego at the heart of every move. It was the ex-Werder Bremen maestro who returned a pass for Del Piero with a defence-splitting backheel for the Juve captain to finish off a move he himself had started. Genoa hit back immediately as Gianluigi Buffon’s rare howler let in Rossi for his and i Rossoblu’s second goal, with the Juve custodian failing to hold onto a Giandomenico Mesto cross.

The drama didn’t end there as Del Piero ran onto a Claudio Marchisio through-ball only to be clipped by Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Whether the incident occurred inside the penalty box or if contact was made remains open to debate, however Referee Mazzoleni was adamant it was a penalty, and Del Piero duly converted. Incensed by the decision, the visitors pushed forward and almost sneaked a draw as Mesto’s cross flashed past the Juve goal, however no Genoa player was on hand to put the ball home.

The final whistle came as a welcome relief for Zaccheroni who welcomed his first win as Juventus Coach, however the day belonged to Del Piero who began the match a legend and finished it a heart-breaker.

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