Del Piero 31(pen), Quagliarella 43, Iaquinta 87
An injury-plagued Juventus hosted Cesena at Stadio Olimpico di Torino and earned a solid win despite having to come from behind. Consistency has been an issue for the Old Lady this season but she is now unbeaten in six league matches and fourth in Serie A, only four points from the summit. This victory will continue to keep the critics at bay.
Cesena, last season’s Serie B runners-up, had attracted a lot of attention during the initial stages of the season, especially after their scalp of Milan on matchday two, but this was their sixth loss in seven Serie A games, and it leaves them in 19th spot.
A few weeks back, Juventus Coach Luigi Delneri had rejected the possibility of turning to Hasan Salihamidžić and Fabio Grosso. However, both were named in the squad against Cesena, and Grosso lined up at left-back. The visitors started the game brightly, with Ezequiel Schelotto’s speed causing Juventus’s back-line problems, but it was his aerial prowess which shone on 10 minutes when he headed Emanuele Giaccherini’s left-wing cross perfectly into the path of Luis Jimenez, who netted from close range.
Claudio Marchisio and Simone Pepe switched wings and Juve slowly but surely recovered. Soon enough, Maximiliano Pellegrino hauled down Leonardo Bonucci during a corner and the referee promptly gave a penalty, which Alessandro Del Piero calmly converted to equalise. Pellegrino then gifted Juventus a man advantage when his reckless tackle on Pepe from behind earned him a second yellow card. This soon had an impact on the game as Marchisio’s excellent curling cross from right wing was headed into the net by Fabio Quagliarella to give Juve a half-time lead.
Cesena Coach Massimo Ficcadenti decided to sacrifice Schelotto for a central defender. It was a change that restored some balance in the circumstances, but one which effectively killed off any attacking threat from his team. They looked disinterested after the break and failed to remotely threaten the solid Juve defence.
Felipe Melo was brought on for Momo Sissoko but suffered an injury within only a few minutes of his introduction – another headache for Delneri. Salihamidžić then replaced Melo and made an immediate impact with an impressive assist. Vincenzo Iaquinta managed to get on the end of a low cross from Brazzo to get his name on the scoresheet and seal the win three minutes left.
Despite Melo’s injury, there were many pluses. Perhaps the biggest was the performance of Frederick Sørensen. Due to the absence of Giorgio Chiellini and Nicola Legrottaglie, Sørensen earned his first start in Serie A. The 18-year-old central defender is currently on loan from Danish side Lyngby Boldklub and showed incredible maturity for his age. He did not set a foot wrong and made sure Cesena’s Giaccherini and Erjon Bogdani were kept at bay throughout the game.
The entire Juventus team looked like a well-oiled machine despite the absence of so many first-choice players. Apart from full-backs Marco Motta and Grosso, who were disappointing, every player played his part and contributed to the team.
After a slow start to the season, Juve are now in touch with the leaders, and those who claimed the Bianconeri wouldn’t cope without star player Milos Krasić during his two-game suspension are well and truly eating their words.
2 Motta – 19 Bonucci- 43 Sørensen – 6 Grosso
23 Pepe – 14 Aquilani – 5 Sissoko – 8 Marchisio
18 Quagliarella – 10 Del Piero
58 – 9 Iaquinta on for 10 Del Piero
58 – 4 Felipe Melo on for 5 Sissoko
7 Salihamidžić on for 4 Felipe Melo