Juventus
    Juventus
      18.06.2015 19:52 - in: The team S

      From Napoli to Napoli, breaking that San Paolo jinx

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      The Italian Super Cup final in Qatar brings 2014 to an end, with a draw against Inter and famous victory over Napoli seeing in the new year

      Before putting their feet up for a well-earned break over the festive period, Serie A leaders Juventus had one more target in their sights: the Italian Super Cup.

      On a night where the Bianconeri were ahead twice but found themselves subsequently pegged back on both occasions, a dramatic 6-5 win for Napoli on penalties sent the trophy to Campania following a 2-2 draw after extra time.

      Miscommunication in the Partenopei defensive ranks enabled Carlos Tevez to saunter through one-on-one to open the scoring, before Higuain levelled matters at the midway point of the second half courtesy of a straightforward header.

      Extra time saw Massimiliano Allegri’s men firmly on the front foot and after several near misses, Tevez squeezed the ball home from the edge of the area to send the Juventus supporters behind the goal into ecstasy.

      But there was to be one final cruel twist in the tale as Higuain prodded home his second of the night from point-blank range with two minutes remaining, sending the game to the lottery of penalties from which the Partenopei emerged victorious after 18 spot kicks.

      A score draw ushered in 2015 for the Bianconeri at Juventus Stadium, as Inter came back from behind to seal a share of the spoils in the 163rd Derby d’Italia.

      Carlos Tevez made it a dream start for the hosts when he capitalised on a great piece of skill from Arturo Vidal to bundle the ball home after just five minutes.

      But after further chances to extend their advantage came and went for the reigning champions, Inter fought their way back into the game midway through the second half, with Mauro Icardi applying a cool finish after latching on to Fredy Guarin’s raking through ball from deep.

      Reacting after the final whistle, Allegri said: “It’s a shame we weren’t able to win our first match of 2015. We knew how difficult the game would be but we put in one of our best performances of the season in the first 45 minutes, creating a great deal and not allowing them a shot on goal.

      “However we then lost our way and we can’t let that happen. We must improve and manage to maintain our level of display for the entire game, not just 50 minutes.”

      This consistency of performance demanded by Allegri was out in full force when the division’s two most prolific attacks – Juventus and Napoli - locked horns at the San Paolo five days later.

      Seeking instant revenge for December’s Super Cup defeat, the Bianconeri took the lead in sensational fashion when Paul Pogba’s sumptuous volley tipped the balance of a closely-fought opening on 29 minutes.

      The hosts got themselves back on level pegging midway through the second half when Miguel Britos pounced to convert a corner, but their joy proved short-lived as the returning  Martin Caceres tucked Andrea Pirlo’s inswinging free-kick home moments later.

      Under siege from heavy Napoli pressure in the final minutes, Juventus dug deep to turn the tide and settle matters once and for all with a classic counter attack, finished with aplomb by Arturo Vidal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

      Fresh from a top-rate display and back in the starting line-up for the first time since October’s 3-2 win over Roma, Caceres commented: “I’m happy on a personal level but also for the team because tonight’s was a pivotal victory. It’s been difficult for me because I’d never had such a lengthy spell on the sidelines.”

      As well as proving pivotal in terms of keeping the Bianconeri out in front of the chasing pack, the success also saw Allegri’s men end the club’s 14-year search for a win at the San Paolo.

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