Stephan Lichtsteiner’s goal allowed Juventus to squeeze a victory in Palermo on Antonio Conte’s return to the bench.
The Bianconeri finally had Coach Conte back on the touchline after his four-month ban expired. He always maintained his innocence in the betting scandal and was bristling with pent-up energy. Juve were still top of the table and fresh from reaching the Champions League last 16 as group winners.
Sebastian Giovinco was suspended, joining the injured Martin Caceres, Mauricio Isla, Luca Marrone, Lucio and Simone Pepe back in Turin. Palermo missed Abel Hernandez and Andrea Mantovani, but Fabrizio Miccoli and Massimo Donati returned from bans.
These teams haven’t shared the spoils in Sicily since 1969, playing out six away wins and five home victories between Serie A and the Coppa Italia.
Giorgio Chiellini was felled early on by an Edgar Barreto crunching tackle and there was confusion as a back-pass almost surprised Samir Ujkani.
Jasmin Kurtic hit a missile from 25 metres that stung Gigi Buffon’s gloves and Miccoli did score with a wonderful low volley from the tightest of angles, but was flagged marginally offside.
There was a nasty clash of heads between Josip Ilicic and Stephan Lichtsteiner, leaving the Palermo midfielder with a bloody nose, but both were able to continue after treatment.
Claudio Marchisio drilled over and a Mirko Vucinic chance was ruled just offside. Juve went extremely close on 35 minutes, as Matri chested down an Arturo Vidal cross for Marchisio’s shot, which Vucinic redirected with a toe – making the shot dribble slowly on to the base of the post!
Ujkani managed to smother at Matri’s feet after Vidal had tackled Kurtic in midfield and run forward to set up the striker with a smart through ball.
There was a hailstorm in Palermo during the half-time break, but Vucinic seemed more warmed up and after 28 seconds his angled drive clipped the base of the far post.
Franco Brienza came on and had penalty appeals for an Andrea Pirlo handling offence, but it seemed to hit his shoulder.
Juventus did finally break the deadlock with Lichtsteiner. Vucinic got in front of Steve Von Bergen to chest down a long Pirlo pass and cleverly placed a backheel flick for Lichtsteiner to come running in behind him, taking the Palermo defence by surprise.
Paul Pogba replaced Vidal due to a knee injury and Palermo threw on teenage hitman Paulo Dybala, whose snapshot whistled wide. Nicklas Bendtner came off the bench and his angled drive flashed across the face of goal.
Michele Morganella left Palermo with 10 men for a second bookable offence on Asamoah in midfield.
Bendtner had the ball in the net, but had already been flagged offside.
Palermo threatened with a free kick, but Juve went on the counter and Leonardo Bonucci sprung the offside trap. The defender hesitated, was closed down by Ujkani and then tried to earn a penalty with an embarrassing dive that was justly booked.
Vucinic wasted another opportunity to make it 2-0 in the final minute, denied by Ujkani in a one-on-one.
Sent off: Morganella 75 (P)