28.01.2015 23:23 - in: Coppa Italia S

    Last-gasp Morata strike seals Coppa Italia semi

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    The Spanish frontman climbs off the bench to send the Bianconeri through to the competition’s last four with this evening’s 1-0 win over Parma at the Tardini

    An 89th minute strike from substitute Alvaro Morata helped the Bianconeri overcome a determined Parma side and seal a tantalising Coppa Italia semi-final against either Fiorentina or Roma with this evening’s 1-0 win at the Tardini.

    A closely fought encounter, contested on a challenging pitch, appeared to be edging towards extra-time but the introduction of Morata, who joined the action on 77 minutes, injected the required thrust to propel Massimiliano Allegri’s men to glory.

    With the clock ticking towards injury time, the 21-year-old collected Fernando Llorente’s assist, weaved his way into the box and slotted a neat finish under the advancing Antonio Mirante to break Gialloblu hearts and send the travelling support into raptures.

    Featuring eight changes from Sunday’s win over Chievo and a switch to 4-3-3, Juventus began the encounter by feeling their opposition out on a heavy playing surface whilst being pressed by the spirited hosts.

    Half-chances for Giorgio Chiellini and Raffele Palladino aside, both of which failed to trouble either goalkeeper, there was very little goalmouth action on offer during the first half an hour.

    After turning in a solid 30 minutes, Parma then began to show greater ambition and after Palladino saw another long-range drive flash over the bar, Antonio Nocerino had a goalbound volley blocked following Massimo Gobbi’s deep cross from the byline.

    But against the run of play it was the Bianconeri who went closest to taking the lead, Simone Pepe’s inswinging left-footed cross from the right flank in first-half stoppage time almost outfoxing Mirante, who was relieved to see his delivery bounce back off the far post.

    The winger, making his second start of the season, had a spring in his step at the beginning of the second half, linking up well with his team-mates and whipping plenty of balls into the box as the Bianconeri looked to turn the screw.

    It was Chiellini though who produced the next chance for the visitors, heading Andrea Pirlo’s corner over the top on 55 minutes.

    With the hosts beginning to sense an upset could possibly be on the cards, Allegri shuffled his pack, replacing Arturo Vidal with the in-form Paul Pogba with just under 20 minutes remaining. He was closely followed by Morata, who joined the action in place of Kingsley Coman.    

    Making an immediate impact, the Spaniard provided the Bianconeri’s first effort on target on 81 minutes - finding Mirante equal to his fierce strike from just outside the box - but saved his best for last with just 60 seconds of normal time remaining, gathering Llorente’s assist before delivering the all-important knockout punch with a tidy finish.

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