Simone Pepe gave Juventus a victory at the Olimpico that tastes of Scudetto ambitions, though Gigi Buffon and the woodwork denied Lazio.
These teams were joint top going into this weekend, so it was a huge test of their Scudetto potential. Andrea Pirlo passed a last-minute fitness test to start despite a knock to the knee, while it was like a derby for ex-Roma star Mirko Vucinic. Lazio missed Stefano Mauri, Libor Kozak, Andre Dias and Francelino Matuzalem, while Juve youth product Tommaso Rocchi pushed Djibril Cissè on to the bench.
The Bianconeri’s last defeat at the Olimpico was in 2003 and some fans thought they had scored after 10 minutes when Claudio Marchisio got in front of his market and Federico Marchetti to meet Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross, but the header skimmed the bar to land on the roof of the net.
Alessandro Matri was pulling the trigger on another Lichtsteiner assist before Mobido Diakite’s crucial sliding tackle.
Pirlo took Marchetti by surprise with a free kick that swerved viciously in the air, but the goalkeeper managed to change direction to palm it off the line and Giorgio Chiellini fired the follow-up wide from close range.
Lazio also threatened, as Rocchi got in front of Leonardo Bonucci and chipped the on-rushing Gigi Buffon to force a corner. Replays show the ball struck Andrea Barzagli’s hand, but it seemed to be involuntary. From that corner, Cristian Ledesma’s screamer sailed over the bar.
Simone Pepe, in the pink away shirt, shook off a defender to curl over and Buffon smothered a Hernanes daisy-cutter.
Hernanes threaded through to release Rocchi and Buffon desperately charged it down with his legs. In the same move, Juventus went on the counter-attack with Matri, who rolled across from the left for the unmarked Pepe’s daisy-cutter finish.
Cristian Brocchi picked up a knock in the first half and made way for Gonzalez. The substitute created a good chance by pulling back for Hernanes, but former teammate Lichtsteiner’s sliding tackle was decisive, as Lazio came out fighting for the second period.
Chiellini needed a desperate challenge to stop Klose in the box and Lazio went even closer on 59 minutes when Hernanes’ snapshot from the edge of the area cracked against the base of the near post.
The pressure was all Lazio, as Marchisio’s yellow card rules him out of the next game with Napoli and Buffon flew to palm away a right-foot Klose curler.
Emanuele Giaccherini’s introduction seemed to restore balance and Juventus nearly made it 2-0, as the substitute spun round in the area to force a sensational one-handed save from Marchetti.
Lazio had a good opportunity wasted by Giuseppe Sculli’s misplaced pass, but Matri ran on to an Arturo Vidal through ball for an angled drive that clipped the edge of the far post.