Mirko Vucinic needed a late brace amid Ivan Pelizzoli’s heroics, as Juventus squeezed past 10-man Pescara 2-1.
It was top against bottom in Serie A, but the Bianconeri were stung by a midweek Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich. Gigi Buffon was benched with flu symptoms, while Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli were suspended, Nicklas Bendtner, Martin Caceres and Simone Pepe injured. Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner start, as they are suspended for the second leg against Bayern.
Pescara also missed Vladimir Weiss, Antonio Balzano, Antonio Bocchetti, Gaetano D’Agostino, Ante Vukusic, Luciano Zauri, Uros Cosic and the suspended Mervan Celik.
Mirko Vucinic was surprisingly not rested and blasted over early on, but Giuseppe Sculli robbed Leonardo Bonucci and Luca Marrone closed him down for a corner. Emanuele Giaccherini had the first real chance on 12 minutes, his volley stinging the palms of Ivan Pelizzoli from a Lichtsteiner cross.
Paul Pogba drilled wide and Sebastian Giovinco ran on to a Vidal through ball to ride two tackles, but the finish was beaten away by Pelizzoli’s feet.
The game was almost entirely played in Pescara’s own half, where Pelizzoli rushed off his line to smother at the feet of Vucinic. Moments later the goalkeeper was again alert to parry Vidal’s volley from point-blank range on a Vucinic pass.
Marco Capuano did well to block a Giovinco shot from six yards, but the impact kept going up to the knee and the Atomic Ant collapsed in pain. He was stretchered off with his head in his hands, making way for Fabio Quagliarella.
Lichtsteiner got to the by-line and pulled back for Giaccherini, who under pressure from Damiano Zanon fired wide.
Substitute Quagliarella had a fantastic opportunity before the break, as he spun round to surge forward and the angled drive cracked against the base of the far post thanks to a crucial Pelizzoli fingertip save.
Just before half-time, Pelizzoli was at full stretch to palm away another Giaccherini attempt with one strong hand.
Vucinic really should’ve scored at the dawn of the second half, but horribly side-footed wide on Kwadwo Asamoah’s cut-back from the by-line.
Pelizzoli continued to perform heroics in goal and flew to palm away a wonderful Quagliarella volley with the outside of the left boot.
Ferdinando Sforzini had a shot for Pescara, but it was well over from 30 metres out. Vucinic turned between three defenders and rolled through for Lichtsteiner, but Pelizzoli read it well and intercepted the pass for Vidal in front of an open goal.
The referee pointed to the spot when Giuseppe Rizzo hauled down Vidal as he tried to get on the end of a free kick, also flashing the red card for ending a goalscoring opportunity. Vucinic stepped up and this time finally managed to beat Pelizzoli, firing low into the near bottom corner. Bizarrely, the striker chose to celebrate by removing his shorts and waving them round over his head, but was still booked.
Vucinic thought he had made it 2-0 with an angled drive from the Vidal through ball, but was marginally offside.
It was only a warning, as the Montenegro international did get his second with a wonderfully-worked goal. He skipped away from Bianchi Arce and used another defender as a shield to curl a brilliant right-foot shot round Pelizzoli from eight yards.
Alessandro Matri replaced Vucinic and fired wide from a very promising position. Moments later Matri gave the ball away to spark a Pescara counter-attack and Emmanuel Cascione unleashed an absolute screamer that flew past Storari under the bar to get one back. Curiously, the midfielder had also netted when Juve beat his team 6-1 earlier this season.
Storari made his first save of the game on 89 minutes, needing two touches to deny Giuseppe Sculli’s solo effort.
Sent off: Rizzo 72 (P)