Juventus have taken the Winter title with a 2-0 victory away to Atalanta thanks to Stephan Lichtsteiner and Emanuele Giaccherini.
The Bianconeri knew a win would guarantee the Winter champion crown, in other words leaders at the half-way stage this season. Antonio Conte returned to face his former club, but made only one change from the side that drew 1-1 with Cagliari last week, as Giorgio Chiellini returned from suspension to push Leonardo Bonucci out of the centre-back role. Atalanta had lost only once on home turf this term, but missed Giampaolo Bellini, Daniele Capelli and the banned Stefano Lucchini and Carlos Carmona.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off for Mario Merelli, a legendary 50-year-old mountain climber and noted Atalanta fan who died during an excursion this week. He even sent a message to his beloved Orobici from the top of one of the world’s highest peaks.
Alessandro Matri should’ve scored after two minutes, but fired over from six yards. Simone Pepe then flashed an angled drive across the face of goal.
Atalanta also threatened, as German Denis chested down a cross for Simone Bonaventura’s volley into the ground, which Gigi Buffon plucked out from under the crossbar.
Matri went very close on 11 minutes, as a free kick eventually fell to the ex-Cagliari striker and his strike was fingertipped on to the far post by Andrea Consigli. From that corner, Mirko Vucinic stung Consigli’s palms at the near post.
An acrobatic attempt at a volley from Paolo De Ceglie whistled wide, while Michele Ferri’s similar effort only got him a nasty cut to the head for his trouble. Matri was incorrectly flagged offside, but had fired straight at Consigli anyway.
De Ceglie nodded over from an Andrea Pirlo free kick, though Chiellini risked giving away a penalty for his shirt-tug on Denis.
Pepe went on the counter to sting Consigli’s palms with a screamer from the edge of the box. Arturo Vidal went even closer, as he unleashed a blockbuster from distance that cracked against the crossbar, possibly with the aid of a Consigli fingertip.
Maxi Moralez chipped a pass on to Denis’ right foot for a splendid volley that flashed across the face of goal to skim the far post.
Straight after the restart Matri again turned off target from six yards, but it was Stephan Lichtsteiner who opened the scoring when he got down for a diving header at the back post from Pirlo’s cross, having got away from Bonaventura.
Matri pounced on a Ferri error to go clear on goal, but his lob was off target with Consigli well off his line. It was another wasted opportunity from the ex-Cagliari hitman.
Pepe was stretchered off after Guido Marilungo’s rough tackle on his right ankle. Chiellini did well to take a Maxi Moralez cross off the head of Denis, then from the corner ‘Tanque’ complained he’d been pulled down by the Italian international defender.
Substitute Luca Marrone’s one-two with Matri saw him denied by Consigli at the near stick. Moments later, 21-year-old Marrone set up Juve’s second goal with a delightful flick off the outside of his foot, allowing Emanuele Giaccherini to spring the offside trap and volley from nine yards.
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