Juventus wasted dozens of chances, but still beat Novara 2-0 with Fabio Quagliarella’s first goal since December 2010.
These two sides both hail from the region of Piedmont, but had not faced off here in Serie A since a 2-2 draw in October 1955. The Bianconeri had to do without the suspended Leonardo Bonucci and Arturo Vidal, while Mirko Vucinic was still injured. Alessandro Del Piero, Fabio Quagliarella and Paolo De Ceglie got rare starts, moving Giorgio Chiellini back into central defence. Novara missed Andrea Lisuzzo and Taka Morimoto, but had won just one of their last 11 top flight games.
Within 120 seconds Juve had gone extremely close, as Quagliarella set up Claudio Marchisio only for him to fire at Samir Ujkani’s shoulder from point-blank range.
It was only a warning, as the low De Ceglie ball flashed across the face of goal to find Simone Pepe’s tap-in at the back post, giving the Bianconeri the lead at the fourth minute.
De Ceglie tried to go for goal himself, an angled drive smothered by Ujkani. Paolo Hernan Dellafiore pulled up with a suspected thigh strain, only adding to Novara’s problems.
Pepe’s shot skimmed the far post, while Emanuele Giaccherini was clear on goal, but Ujkani rushed off his line and performed a desperate save to deny Juventus a second goal.
Del Piero’s curler was not far off the target, though Novara had a great chance when Gigi Buffon rushed off his line to stop Meggiorini.
Moments later, Ujkani dove to his left to beat away a Giaccherini header, then Pepe wasted when his first touch let him down and Del Piero’s free kick was well held. Novara again tested Buffon with a Rigoni header.
Straight after the restart, Pepe robbed Centurioni in midfield to spark a counter, which Del Piero fired wide with only the goalkeeper to beat. Andrea Barzagli and Massimo Paci collided when trying to get on the end of Del Piero’s free kick, but the referee waved play on.
Giaccherini ran on to a Quagliarella back-heel only to aim a weak finish at Ujkani. With so many chances wasted, Novara were still in it and only a lucky deflection off Barzagli took Meggiorini’s shot out for a corner.
Juventus continued to let Novara off the hook, as Pepe sprinted down the right and rolled across for Del Piero in front of an open goal, but Ivan Radovanovic’s sliding tackle was absolutely decisive.
Buffon needed a spectacular diving save to push Raffaele Rubino’s header off the line with his fingertips at the far post on 65 minutes.
Juventus finally put themselves 2-0 up with Quagliarella’s first goal since his devastating injury in January. Quagliagol rose above the crowd for a powerful header to turn Pepe’s corner in at the far post.
In the final minutes Giuseppe Gemiti performed a goalline clearance on Alessandro Matri, then Giaccherini fired at Ujkani on the counter.