SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 18 - 23 Dec 2017 (19.45 UK)
Juventus 1 - 0 Roma
Benatia 19 (J)
Juventus Stadium

Medhi Benatia got the only goal of the game against his former club, as Juventus got past Roma, but were hanging on for dear life at the end.

This was a top of the table showdown between second and fourth, along with an ancient rivalry that goes back to the very beginnings of Italian football. Gigi Buffon, Mattia De Sciglio and Benedikt Howedes were injured, but Max Allegri dropped Paulo Dybala for the third Serie A match running, despite his goal and assist in the Coppa Italia midweek. There were starts for ex-Roma men Wojciech Szczesny, Medhi Benatia and Miralem Pjanic. Eusebio Di Francesco only missed Gregoire Defrel and Rick Karsdorp.

Roma have lost their last seven Serie A trips to Turin, managing one point since a 2-1 victory in January 2010.

Juan Cuadrado and Mario Mandzukic returned from injury, the Colombian’s first touch letting him down on a Gonzalo Higuain through ball and allowing Federico Fazio to block.

Mandzukic’s glancing header whistled wide from a Blaise Matuidi cross, as did Higuain’s, while Pipita chested down a long ball and Fazio timed his interception perfectly to prod it away.

Juve took the lead with a chaotic goal from Benatia. Giorgio Chiellini’s header from the Pjanic corner was brilliantly parried by Alisson, who also turned the Benatia rebound on to the bar, but could do nothing on the defender’s third attempt.

Higuain tried to pounce on a misunderstanding between Alisson and Fazio, going down under the goalkeeper’s challenge, but penalty appeals were waved away.

Roma were reminded on Szczesny’s reflexes when Diego Perotti rolled across for Stephan El Shaarawy to come sliding in, forcing the goalkeeper into a desperate save.

Radja Nainggolan blasted over on the half-volley and Mandzukic fired straight at Alisson. Higuain should’ve made it 2-0 on 54 minutes at the end of a well-worked move between Mandzukic and Sami Khedira, but ballooned over as Alisson came rushing out.

Dzeko was very isolated in attack, but when Florenzi did whip in a fine cross, Benatia intercepted the header.

Alisson showed good reactions to parry Matuidi’s attempt from close range and Higuain wasted another golden opportunity, ballooning a Mandzukic assist over from 12 yards.

Dzeko had a similar approach, blasting off target, and Chiellini’s sliding tackle cut the Bosnian off as Roma pressure continued to build.

They had a huge chance to equalise on 80 minutes, as De Rossi’s pass over the top found Florenzi to flick it over Szczesny, bouncing off the crossbar. Substitute Patrik Schick then tried to turn in the rebound, but was crowded out by defensive bodies.

Roma threw everything at Juve late on, as Dzeko knocked on a Florenzi cross and found Cengiz Under at the back post, but Szczesny turned the diving header wide with his foot.

Deep into stoppages, Pjanic went on the counter and unleashed a screamer that Alisson fingertipped on to the crossbar.

Benatia almost went from hero to zero, as his backpass sent Schick clear on goal, but Szczesny came tearing out to parry with his legs.


Juventus: Szczesny; Barzagli, Benatia, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Pjanic, Khedira, Matuidi (Marchisio 78); Cuadrado (Bernardeschi 76), Higuain, Mandzukic
Roma: Alisson; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Nainggolan, De Rossi (Cengiz Under 85), Strootman (Pellegrini 70); El Shaarawy (Schick 66), Dzeko, Perotti
Ref: Tagliavento