Juventus dominated this game with Lazio, but only scraped a 2-1 victory thanks to Alessandro Del Piero’s late free kick.
The Bianconeri took advantage of Milan’s shock home defeat to Fiorentina by leapfrogging them to the top of the table on Easter Saturday. The Rossoneri won last night’s game, so the pressure was back on Juve to regain the leadership. Antonio Conte had a full squad to choose from and opted for a last-minute change as Paolo De Ceglie was replaced in the named line-up by Stephan Lichtsteiner for a 4-3-3 system. Edy Reja’s injury crisis continued with Miroslav Klose, Andre Dias, Marius Stankevicius, Senad Lulic, Abdoullay Konko and Stefan Radu missing out.
Juve were unbeaten in their previous 14 meetings with Lazio in Serie A, last tasting defeat in Rome in 2003-04.
Giorgio Chiellini flashed a pass across for Fabio Quagliarella to scuff wide as he came sliding in, then Federico Marchetti was both lucky and unlucky simultaneously. Quagliarella’s snapshot from distance bounced very strangely off the turf to whack the goalkeeper in the face, leaving him in need of treatment.
Mirko Vucinic had penalty appeals for a tussle with Lionel Scaloni, but the referee waved play on.
Simone Pepe really should’ve opened the scoring on 27 minutes, but lost his nerve and fired straight at Marchetti.
Pepe got his goal soon after in truly spectacular fashion. Lazio were pegged back into their own penalty area, so Pirlo chipped up a pass for Pepe to spring the offside trap, chest it down and with a fantastic overhead kick beat the goalkeeper from six yards.
Arturo Vidal almost netted an even more astounding goal moments later, as he saw Marchetti off his line and lobbed from the centre-circle in a David Beckham style strike, but the goalkeeper back-pedalled furiously to fingertip it out from under the bar.
Juventus had another amazing opportunity, all of it in the space of five minutes. Quagliarella’s shot seemed certain to go in after he spun round Mobido Diakite in the six-yard box, but Marchetti showed cat-like reflexes to stick up a trailing hand and palm it over the bar while he was on the ground.
The first half was one-way traffic and Pirlo’s long ball found Lichtsteiner to pull back from the by-line for Vucinic, but Diakite’s sliding tackle was decisive to deflect over the bar.
Juve were made to pay for wasting all those chances, though, as Stefano Mauri equalised on the stroke of half-time with Lazio’s first real opportunity. Leonardo Bonucci completely forgot his man, so Mauri was allowed a free header from a cross whipped in from the right.
After the restart Rocchi went on a dangerous counter-attack, so Lichtsteiner was booked for a cynical foul in the final third against his former teammate. Vucinic controlled a long pass well, but flashed the angled drive across the face of goal as Marchetti rushed out at his feet.
Marchetti flapped away a dangerous Pirlo free kick, then saved from Lichtsteiner from point-blank range even though he was offside. Both sides made substitutions to maintain the amazing intensity of this match.
Lichtsteiner sprung the offside trap again only to pull his cross too far back for Chiellini, who was ready to tap in.
Alessandro Del Piero rescued Juve in the final minutes, as he came off the bench and curled a magnificent free kick into the near bottom corner, leaving Marchetti rooted to the spot. The Lazio wall seemed to split in the middle and Marchetti was wrong-footed, sending the Juventus Stadium wild. It was a fine way to mark his 700th appearance for Juventus in all competition.
Edoardo Reja was sent off in stoppages for dissent and bizarrely Libor Kozak was also red carded. He accidentally clashed heads with Leonardo Bonucci and may have broken the Juve defender’s nose, but did not use his elbow.
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Sent off: Kozak 93 (L)