Leonardo Bonucci’s stunning volley saw Juventus beat Roma 3-2 in a Scudetto battle royal with two red cards, three penalties and controversy.
This was an early Scudetto showdown between two teams with a 100 per cent record so far this season. Juve had Andrea Pirlo surprisingly starting his first game of the season in place of Arturo Vidal, but missed Andrea Barzagli, Luca Marrone and Romulo. The Giallorossi were still without Morgan De Sanctis, Daniele De Rossi, Leandro Castan, Davide Astori, Kevin Strootman, Marco Borriello and Federico Balzaretti.
The Bianconeri were fresh from a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, but Francesco Totti became the oldest ever Champions League scorer this week in a 1-1 draw away to Manchester City. Juventus won 3-0 here last season and the choreography in the stands reminded Roma of their all-time record haul of 102 points from that title-winning term.
Claudio Marchisio tested Lukasz Skorupski from close range after 10 minutes, but the Juve man wanted a penalty for a nudge from behind by Jose Holebas.
There was huge controversy on 27 minutes, as Pirlo’s free kick was charged down by Maicon in the wall. At first the referee awarded another free kick on the edge of the box, but after consultation with his assistants he pointed to the spot. It was a tight decision, as it seemed to be right on the line, possibly outside it. Tevez converted with confidence, giving Juventus the lead, but Rudi Garcia was sent off for dissent after making a sarcastic violin gesture towards the Juve players who he accused of whining.
At the other end, Roma had a free kick and Lichtsteiner was penalised for wrestling Totti to the ground, so it was another penalty. The 38-year-old captain took the spot-kick himself and converted past friend Gigi Buffon.
There were six yellow cards and scuffles breaking out, while in the stands Roma players got into arguments with the supporters around them. Another Pirlo free kick was cleared to the edge of the box, where Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa charged down Tevez’s strike. From that corner, Giorgio Chiellini’s free header whistled just wide.
Roma took the lead for the first time with a great move, as Gervinho’s inspired through ball allowed Iturbe to spring the offside trap and fire past Buffon at the near post.
Gervinho could’ve added a third moments later, as he sprinted away when Caceres pulled up with a thigh strain and finished the move by firing over the bar. It was bad news for Caceres, who was already in doubt after dislocating his shoulder against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Deep into stoppages, Pjanic mistimed his tackle to trip Pogba right on the line and give Juventus another penalty. Tevez stepped up again and kicked it the same way, powerfully at the near bottom corner.
Straight after the restart Skorupski was grateful that Pogba’s first touch let him down when clear on goal, then Holebas was decisive to intercept a Lichtsteiner-Tevez give-and-go in the box.
Gervinho got to the by-line and pulled back for Pjanic, whose angled drive from five yards scraped a coat of paint off the base of the far post.
There was a risky Kwadwo Asamoah tackle on Gervinho, but the Ivorian stayed on his feet, and from that corner Radja Nainggolan’s shot was deflected wide.
Alvaro Morata came off the bench and almost scored, as his towering header smacked against the crossbar with Skorupski beaten.
Holebas was crucial, twice in quick succession charging down Tevez shots as he turned in the box, but on that corner Bonucci scored with a sensational volley from the edge of the box. There were three Juve players in offside positions, but not considered to be interfering with play.
The tension was sky high and when Morata and Manolas clashed on the touchline, it sparked a brawl. Morata was sent off for the sliding tackle and Manolas also went for his furious reaction.
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Sent off: Morata 88 (J), Manolas 88 (R)