Alessandro Matri came off the bench to give Juventus a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Serse Cosmi’s Lecce.
Antonio Conte returned to face his hometown club and did so as joint Serie A leaders with Milan and still unbeaten this season. Lecce were propping up the table and in dire straits, though Serse Cosmi’s arrival did boost their performances at the end of 2011. Manuel Giandonato and Moris Carrozzieri were unavailable for this difficult test.
Marco Borriello completed his transfer from Roma, but was not yet in the squad. The new fans had a message for him, though, with a large banner that read: ‘Borriello, mercenary without honour or dignity.’
Benassi was at full stretch to palm a Simone Pepe angled drive past the upright, then bad news for Lecce, who lost Rodney Strasser to injury almost immediately.
Lecce still had the first chance, though, as a free kick found Guillermo Giacomazzi from close range to force Gigi Buffon into a reaction save.
Conte also had to make an early substitution, as Fabio Quagliarella got a knock to the cheekbone and made way for Alessandro Matri. The newcomer had a great chance to open the scoring straight away, but aimed a weak angled drive straight into the arms of Benassi.
Matri made up for it moments later, as he was in the right place at the right time to nod in the rebound as Benassi only beat away a Mirko Vucinic screamer.
Lecce were unlucky, as Muriel was stopped for an incorrect offside flag when going clear on goal because Leonardo Bonucci was keeping him in play.
Buffon was again tested, as he got down quickly to palm a dangerously dipping David Di Michele snapshot off the line.
Straight after the restart Claudio Marchisio’s finish was just wide from a tight angle, while Ruben Olivera horribly nodded Massimo Oddo’s free kick off target with only Buffon to beat.
Olivera risked a red card for his shoving match with Arturo Vidal, but was fortunate they were both only booked. Vucinic wanted a penalty for the Oddo tackle, though the referee waved play on.
There was chaos during a Lecce move with at least four shots all charged down by various defensive bodies. Oddo’s free kick skimmed the crossbar to land on the roof of the net, while at the other end Matri wasted a counter with his poor pass for Vucinic.
Benassi was at full stretch to palm a Vucinic daisy-cutter off the line, but at the other end Juve-owned Cristian Pasquato flashed across the face of goal from six yards to scare the Bianconeri faithful.
Lecce goalkeeper Benassi flew to push Matri’s powerful strike round the post from point-blank range with one strong hand.