SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 12 - 6 Nov 2016 (14.00 UK)
Chievo 1 - 2 Juventus
Mandzukic 53 (J), Pellissier pen 66 (C), Pjanic 75 (J)
Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi

Juventus saw Andrea Barzagli stretchered off and were given quite a scare, but conquered Chievo with Miralem Pjanic’s free kick.

This was an historic occasion, as Gigi Buffon made his 600th Serie A appearance, only the fourth player to achieve this after Paolo Maldini (647), Javier Zanetti (615) and Francesco Totti (607).

The Bianconeri were eager to overcome the disappointment of Wednesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw with Lyon, while the Flying Donkeys had to answer critics following an embarrassing defeat to bottom of the table Crotone. Leonardo Bonucci and Claudio Marchisio were not risked from the start, with Giorgio Chiellini, Paulo Dybala and Marko Pjaca injured, so it was a revamped side. Riccardo Meggiorini and Nicola Rigoni missed out for the hosts.

Chievo had beaten Juventus just once in 26 previous Serie A attempts, drawing seven and losing 18. The lone success was 1-0 at the Bentegodi in January 2010.

In the circumstances it was the worst possible start for Max Allegri, as Andrea Barzagli fell heavily on to his shoulder and was stretchered off in the opening four minutes. Bonucci, recovering from a thigh strain, was thrown on.

Mario Mandzukic would’ve scored a stunning solo effort when he nodded on a long ball, flicked it over Nicolas Spolli to cut back at the by-line, but the finish was over the bar from close range. The Croatian also nodded wide at the back post from an Alex Sandro cross.

Mandzukic also had a decent penalty shout when he tried to control a cross and Spolli clattered into him, but the referee waved play on.

Gonzalo Higuain had a great opportunity just before half-time, running on to an Alex Sandro assist only to find Stefano Sorrentino’s reaction save at the near stick.

The deadlock was eventually broken after the restart, as Mandzukic ran on to a smart Cuadrado through ball and swept in with the inside of his right boot towards the far bottom corner.

Higuain could’ve gone down when having his shirt obviously tugged by Danielli, who was already on a yellow card, but stayed on his feet to earn a corner.

Gigi Buffon was called into action with a splendid reaction save on Lucas Castro from close range after a Sergio Pellissier knock-down.

The veteran striker completely transformed Chievo’s performance and he made a huge impact when springing the offside trap to be tripped by Stephan Lichtsteiner. Pellissier, on his 400th Serie A appearance, converted the penalty by sending Buffon the wrong way.

Pjanic has struggled to make an impact this season, but he restored Juve’s advantage with a trademark free kick curled into the near top corner from the edge of the box, leaving Sorrentino rooted to the spot.

Allegri seemed to lock the game down at that point and hang on for the slender victory. Nonetheless, Stefano Sturaro wasted a golden opportunity when pouncing on a misplaced pass, firing over one-on-one with Sorrentino.

Juan Cuadrado also dribbled past three players only to then prod wide from six yards, while in stoppages Sorrentino flew to palm another Pjanic free kick out of the far top corner.

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Chievo: Sorrentino; Cacciatore, Spolli, Dainelli, Gobbi; Izco (Pellissier 61), Radovanovic, Hetemaj, Castro; Birsa (De Guzman 76); Floro Flores (Inglese 84)
Juventus: Buffon; Lichtsteiner (Dani Alves 84), Benatia, Barzagli (Bonucci 4), Alex Sandro; Sturaro, Hernanes, Pjanic; Cuadrado, Mandzukic, Higuain (Evra 79)
Ref: Valeri