Goals from Alvaro Morata and Claudio Marchisio earned Juventus a share of the spoils in tonight’s end-to-end 2-2 draw with Cesena at the Dino Manuzzi, a result which enables the reigning champions to maintain their seven-point advantage over nearest challengers Roma.
Following a positive start to proceedings, Cesena capitalised on Bianconeri hesitation in midfield to draw first blood on 17 minutes through Milan Djuric, who rounded off a quick counter attack by slotting the ball under Gigi Buffon.
Not content to lick their wounds, the visitors dusted themselves down and restored parity 10 minutes later courtesy of an Alvaro Morata header - his sixth Serie A goal of the campaign - from Paul Pogba’s pinpoint cross.
Five minutes later, the turnaround was complete, Marchisio arriving first on the scene to nudge a loose ball in the six-yard box past a stranded Nicola Leali.
More goalmouth action was to follow in the second-half, however, as plucky Cesena gave their survival hopes a significant boost by coming away with a point thanks to Franco Brienza’s fine strike on 70 minutes.
Their hard work risked being undone when Stefano Lucchini’s handball presented Arturo Vidal with the ideal opportunity to clinch victory with eight minutes remaining, but the midfielder sent his penalty wide of the target to leave the scores locked at 2-2.
In yesterday’s press conference opposition boss Domenico Di Carlo underlined the need for a high energy performance from his men and he will have been delighted with the way they set about their task from the very first whistle.
Denying Juventus time and space on the ball with frenzied pressing, Cesena immediately had the reigning champions on the back foot and could have taken the lead inside the opening ten minutes, Gregoire Defrel twice foiled by an ever-alert Buffon.
But there was little the goalkeeper could do about the goal that deservedly put the hosts in front on 17 minutes. Defrel it was who caught the Bianconeri outnumbered in the defence with a purposeful through ball, with Djuric rounding off a swift counter attack by nudging his effort under the onrushing Buffon.
Stung by falling a goal behind, Juventus responded by lifting the tempo and wrestling the midfield battle back in their control. This increased thrust enabled them to start asking questions of the Cesena defence, whose lapse in concentration allowed Morata to drift towards the near post unmarked and head Pogba’s cross home on 27 minutes.
Now with the wind firmly in their sails, the league leaders sensed the tide was turning in their favour and seized the advantage just five minutes later, Marchisio ghosting in at the near post to celebrate Serie A appearance number 200 for Juventus with his name on the scoresheet.
Cesena emerged for the second half with a similar bold and positive approach seen in the opening stages and, but for wasteful shooting from Defrel, would have tested Buffon on a couple of occasions in the early stages of the restart.
More accurate on 70 minutes was Brienza, who set up a grandstand finish with an unstoppable left-footed strike from the edge of the area that nestled sweetly in the bottom corner.
Further drama was to ensue as the Bianconeri pushed for a winner, with Vidal fluffing his lines from the penalty spot with eight minutes remaining after Lucchini was adjudged to have handled in the area.
The result sees the visitors preserve their seven-point advantage over Roma, who played out a goalless draw with Parma earlier on in the day.