Juventus dominated against a decimated Palermo and the 2-0 victory puts them top of the Serie A table on Easter weekend!
The Bianconeri went into this game with an unexpected boost, as earlier this afternoon Milan lost 2-1 at home to Fiorentina, meaning a win in Sicily would put them top of the table. Fabio Quagliarella, Martin Caceres and Marcelo Estigarribia were given rare starts in the 3-5-2 system. Palermo were decimated, as bans alone ruled out Nicolas Bertolo, Abel Hernandez, Andrea Mantovani and Massimo Donati. The injured Federico Balzaretti, Matias Silvestre and Aguirregaray complete the absentee list, so the defence was completely revamped.
Quagliarella had a chance in the opening minute, but his first touch let him down and he slipped in the box. Quagliarella then turned provider with a cross from the right that flashed across the face of goal, but Mirko Vucinic just failed to get the final touch from six yards.
Quagliarella should’ve scored when he ran on to an Estigarribia through ball, but fired wide of the near post from close range when trying to surprise the goalkeeper.
Vucinic went extremely close as he shook off Ezequiel Munoz in the box and Emiliano Viviano did just about enough to send him wide, so the cross-shot flashed past an open goal with nobody ready to tap in.
Martin Caceres seemed certain to score on his birthday when sneaking up on the Palermo defence to latch on to a chipped Vucinic pass, but his finish with the outside of the boot was off target from eight yards.
Juventus wasted another chance, but play was halted just after it went begging as there was a nasty clash of heads between Milan Milanovic – who was left with a heavily bleeding nose – and Estigarribia. The Palermo defender was able to resume after several minutes of treatment, although it was later confirmed he had fractured his nose.
Viviano had his palms stung by a sudden Andrea Pirlo right-foot snapshot from distance, then another of the veteran midfielder’s attempts was well smothered.
Palermo had their first shot on target in first half stoppages when Gigi Buffon easily gathered an Edgar Barreto strike from outside the box.
A corner was cleared as far as Arturo Vidal for a fierce shot straight into Viviano’s arms, but Juventus did finally break through at the 55th minute.
A Pirlo corner kick got a touch from Leonardo Bonucci’s glancing header to turn it past Viviano and in off the inside of the back post. Bonucci celebrated with particular joy, as he had a goal taken off him last week when replays failed to show his deflection on the Vucinic shot.
Another corner was pulled back to the D for Claudio Marchisio to balloon over. Palermo introduced another striker, Igor Budan, for midfielder Afriyie Acquah. The Rosanero had a good chance when Giulio Migliaccio found himself unmarked, but he just failed to get the final touch to a chipped pass.
Viviano had his palms stung by a long-range Vucinic screamer, but angered Antonio Conte with two solo efforts and the Coach replaced him with Alessandro Matri.
Miccoli ran rings around Giorgio Chiellini down the right flank and his ball whistled across the six-yard line with Ilicic sliding in unable to make contact in front of an open goal.
However, moments later Quagliarella scored Juve’s second with a fantastic strike. Quagliarella and Matri combined on the edge of the box for the Neapolitan to curl the finish past Viviano with the inside of his boot to the far bottom corner.
Substitute Armin Bacinovic blasted over in the closing stages, but Alessandro Del Piero went on a mazy move in the box and forced Viviano to parry with an outstretched foot.