Wednesday January 11 2017
Coppa: Juve squeeze past Atalanta

Paulo Dybala scored a stunning volley and provided an assist, but Juventus found it harder than expected to beat Atalanta 3-2 in the Coppa Italia.

The winners of this one-off Round of 16 encounter go on to face Milan or Torino in the Quarter-Final on January 25.

Giorgio Chiellini was suspended for the trophy holders, with Gigi Buffon, Dani Alves, Medhi Benatia and Mario Lemina unavailable. When these sides met in Serie A last month, Atalanta were beaten 3-1 to end an excellent run of form.

Tomas Rincon got his first start since the move from Genoa and almost scored in the opening minutes, as Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross sailed just over his head.

Mario Mandzukic almost scored a bizarre goal on 16 minutes when he redirected Lichtsteiner’s cross with his stomach and it bounced off the upright from point-blank range.

Dybala appeared to be brought down in the box by Rafael Toloi, but the referee waved play on. La Joya did make the difference with the opening goal, as Mandzukic knocked down a cross for his absolutely ferocious left-foot volley from the edge of the box. There was no stopping that strike.

Andrea Petagna tested Norberto Neto, but Juve added a second when Dybala’s slide-rule pass sent Mandzukic clear for an angled drive.

Mandzukic threatened a third, firing just wide of the near top corner, but on the stroke of half-time he slipped on a volley at the back post and wasted the splendid Miralem Pjanic chipped assist.

In the second half Atalanta kept more possession without making a dent in the Bianconeri defence and Mandzukic couldn’t get a clean header on to Stefano Sturaro’s cross.

Marko Pjaca made his comeback after three months out with a fracture and Rincon’s solo effort was fingertipped on to the crossbar by Etrit Berisha.

However, Atalanta did find their goal when Abdoulay Konko unleashed a scorcher on the outside of his right boot that flew in off the inside of the far post from the edge of the box.

It didn’t last long, as Marco D’Alessandro tripped Lichtsteiner for a penalty that Pjanic converted.

Konko should’ve had a second moments later, but ballooned wide from 10 yards after a woeful Norberto Neto clearance. Juve didn’t learn from that scare and did concede when 18-year-old Emmanuel Latte Lath got in front of Lichtsteiner to tap in a smart Andrea Conti pull-back from the by-line.

Neto struggled to control an Andrea Petagna curler, Remo Freuler turned over after a Hernanes error and Toloi wasted with a defender’s finish.

Juventus 3-2 Atalanta

Dybala 22 (J), Mandzukic 34 (J), Konko 71 (A), Pjanic pen 75 (J), Latte Lath 81 (A)

Juventus: Neto; Lichtsteiner, Rugani, Barzagli, Asamoah; Rincon, Hernanes, Marchisio (Sturaro 46); Pjanic (Bonucci 81); Dybala (Pjaca 62), Mandzukic

Atalanta: Berisha; Toloi, Caldara, Masiello; Conti, Freuler, Grassi (Latte 60), Spinazzola, Kurtic (Konko 46); Petagna, D’Alessandro (Gomez 82)

Ref: Giacomelli