The Bianconeri maintained their 100 per cent Serie A record against Milan at Juventus Stadium with this evening’s 3-2 victory in front of a capacity crowd in Turin.
Having fallen behind to an early Sulley Muntari strike, Juventus rallied and went into the break on level terms following Andrea Pirlo’s 15th minute free-kick which evaded the clutches of Christian Abbiati.
The second-half saw the hosts’ increased impetus rewarded when substitute Sebastian Giovinco tricked his way into the penalty area before finding the bottom corner on 69 minutes. Milan’s misery was compounded six minutes later, when Giorgio Chiellini reacted quickest to another Pirlo set piece routine, steering the ball home from inside the box.
A late Muntari effort from outside the penalty area failed to alter the final outcome as the Bianconeri held on for three important points which enable them to preserve their unbeaten start to the campaign and keep in touch with early pace setters Roma and Napoli.
Antonio Conte made three changes from Wednesday night’s Champions League draw with Galatasaray, fielding Simone Padoin and Fabio Quagliarella in place of injured duo Stephan Lichtsteiner and Mirko Vucinic, with Claudio Marchisio also coming in for Paul Pogba in midfield.
It proved to be an uphill struggle from the beginning, however, as Milan caught Juventus cold with an attack straight from kick off. The ball was eventually worked to Sulley Muntari, who squeezed a low right-footed effort beyond Gigi Buffon at the far post with just 19 seconds on the clock.
The shock opener failed to dampen the enthusiasm of a full house, who raised the volume as the Bianconeri attempted to stage an instant recovery following their early setback. This was almost achieved when Fabio Quagliarella was played into space on eight minutes, only for the striker to blaze his attempt over the crossbar with the goal gaping at his mercy.
The efforts kept coming, with Chiellini next to try his luck courtesy of a dipping strike from just outside the area that required Abbiati’s intervention to tip it over to safety.
Juventus’ increased momentum, coupled with the pace and guile of Carlos Tevez on the break, fashioned the opportunity which would see them draw level with 15 minutes played. The Argentine’s direct run at the heart of the Milan central defenders was brought to an abrupt halt by Nigel De Jong’s challenge from behind, with Pirlo curling home the resulting free-kick which Abbiati was unable to keep from crossing the line.
For all the Bianconeri’s positivity, Massimiliano Allegri’s men remained a threat on the counter and Cristian Zapata’s shot on 26 minutes, parried around the post for a corner by Buffon, served as a warning of their intentions to push for all three points.
The flurry of chances in the opening stages then gave way to a period of hustle and bustle in the midfield, no doubt heightened by the driving rain which made the greasy playing surface conducive to the brand of passing football preferred by both sides.
Having gone into the half time break all square, Juventus emerged for the second 45 minutes determined to push on in the final third, but laboured to fashion clear cut chances against a compact Milan outfit.
In fact it was the visitors who threatened first after the restart when both Montolivo and Robinho, either side of a decent Arturo Vidal effort from range, drew saves from a perfectly placed Buffon.
Undeterred, Conte’s men continued to attack their opposition, with Kwadwo Asamoah drawing gasps from the crowd when his right-footed shot from the edge of the area whistled over the crossbar just shy of the hour mark.
Next to go close was substitute Pogba, operating on the right flank in place of Padoin, with a drilled attempt that was too hot to handle for Abbiati.
But it was another replacement, Giovinco, who would steal the show. Minutes after entering the fray for Quagliarella and finding the ball at his feet in the box, he confidently jinked past Zapata’s despairing lunge before slamming a right-footed shot into the bottom corner for his first goal of the season.
With Juventus Stadium rocking and confidence flowing through Conte’s men after edging their noses in front, Milan’s hopes of salvaging something from the encounter were subsequently dealt a severe blow when Phillipe Mexes was given his marching orders following a foul on Giovinco.
Having already eyed up his range from a dead ball situation in the first half, Pirlo represented the ideal candidate to take the resulting free-kick. The midfielder forced Abbiati to scramble across goal as his pinpoint strike arrowed towards the target, but just as the stadium collectively lamented his misfortune at hitting the crossbar, up popped Chiellini to steer the ball into an unguarded net.
There was to be one final moment of drama, though, as Muntari grabbed his second of the night with a speculative shot from distance on the stroke of 90 minutes.
But the Bianconeri saw out the remaining four minutes of stoppage time to celebrate a well-earned victory which keeps them level on 19 points with Napoli and two behind current leaders Roma.