Juventus snatched a dramatic 2-1 win away to Fiorentina, who had a goal incorrectly disallowed and saw Gigi Buffon save a last-gasp penalty.
The Bianconeri had won 23 of the last 24 rounds and were within touching distance of their fifth consecutive Scudetto. However, they hadn’t won at the Stadio Franchi since a 5-0 triumph in March 2012, followed by two draws and a 4-2 defeat. On the other hand, the Viola had won just one of their previous eight meetings with the Turin giants, home and away, losing five.
The hosts pressed hard from the start to harass the Juve defenders, but Josip Ilicic fired straight at Gigi Buffon and Cristian Tello didn’t get on the end Federico Bernardeschi’s pull-back.
Sami Khedira had the ball in the back of the net after 16 minutes, but was correctly flagged offside on the Mario Mandzukic through pass.
Fiorentina also had a goal disallowed, but this time Bernardeschi was being kept level by Andrea Barzagli when he ran on to the Ilicic through ball and stroked the finish past Buffon. It was a perfectly valid goal.
Buffon showed great reactions to stick out a foot and parry Bernardeschi’s deflected cross at the base of the near post. At the other end, Paulo Dybala’s snapshot also took a deflection to land on the roof of the net and Marcos Alonso made the most of a slight Khedira hesitation to stop him getting the shot away on a Paul Pogba assist.
Buffon got right behind a Tello strike after the splendid first touch, but Juventus took the lead at the Stadio Franchi.
Pogba soared to knock down a Khedira chipped pass and Mandzukic volleyed in with his weaker left foot from 12 yards. This confirms the statistic that of the Croatian’s 10 Serie A goals this season, eight were openers.
Fiorentina fought back, but Buffon flew to flap a Bernardeschi cross-shot out from under the bar and on the resulting corner Marcos Alonso incredibly turned a header wide at the back post from four yards, although there was shirt-tugging from Daniele Rugani and therefore penalty appeals.
After the restart Ilicic scuffed a shot and injured himself in the process, making way for Mauro Zarate. Pogba surged forward on the counter only to flash a shot across the face of goal under pressure.
It was end to end stuff, as Buffon had to palm a Zarate low strike and Nikola Kalinic effort round the base of the near post, then Zarate drilled another attempt just wide.
There was an historic moment on 72 minutes, as Rugani was booked for the first time in his entire Serie A career at the 53rd appearance. His last card at club level was in Serie B during Siena-Empoli on March 1, 2014.
Kalinic mistimed his jump and failed to get on the end of an excellent Alonso cross.
Fiorentina got their equaliser when Leonardo Bonucci was caught in possession by Zarate and Kalinic curled a splendid effort into the bottom corner from the D.
However, the Viola were practically still celebrating when a corner was knocked back by Mandzukic, Patrice Evra’s scuffed volley bounced off Milan Badelj’s shin and substitute Alvaro Morata was quickest to react on the rebound to restore Juve’s lead.
The dramatic finale wasn’t over yet, as in the final minute Fiorentina received a very dubious penalty for a Juan Cuadrado nudge on Kalinic. The striker stepped up and his spot-kick was parried by Buffon, who also stuck out a leg to deny Bernardesci’s follow-up too!
It still wasn’t over, as on the corner Kalinic’s header hit the underside of the bar from point-blank range.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk
Saved penalty: Kalinic 90 (F)