With the 2011/2012 Serie A season slowly edging into its pivotal stage, Juventus were looking to extend their lead over Milan at the summit with an away triumph at Romagna-based side Cesena.
Antonio Conte’s outfit went into the game on the back of a six-match winning run during which they had registered big victories over Fiorentina, Napoli and Roma.
Mario Beretta’s Cesena, on the other hand, were fighting for their lives at the bottom of Serie A and found themselves in the middle of a winless run dating back to 15 January when they downed Novara 3-1. Could they spring a surprise?
Juventus dominated from the off at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi and were awarded a penalty after only nine minutes had elapsed when captain Giuseppe Colucci handled in his own area.
Andrea Pirlo stepped up to take the subsequent spot-kick but saw his effort cannon back off the post before being cleared from any further danger by the Cesena backline.
That miss failed to knock the Maestro off his stride as he picked out Claudio Marchisio with a stellar pass minutes later but the boyhood Bianconero could only blaze over.
Conte’s side were starting to turn the screw as Mirko Vucinic then headed over from a corner before Paolo De Ceglie saw his stooped effort from Pirlo’s set-piece rebound off a combination of goalkeeper and post and drop wide.
After being camped in their own half for the best part of the first 30 minutes, Cesena had a chance of their own but Colucci dragged his long-range shot well wide of Gigi Buffon’s upright.
The beginning of the second-half saw the home side go close but Luca Ceccarelli’s guided effort deflected back off his team mate Vincenzo Rennella with the goal beckoning.
That opportunity served as a warning sign for the Bianconeri who upped the ante to take the game to their hosts.
After being put through by a delicately dinked pass from Marchisio, Alessandro Matri’s shot squirmed between Francesco Antonioli's legs but before the ball looked it was spinning in, the veteran managed to stretch back and expertly claw it off the goal-line.
Midway through the second-half, Arturo Vidal arched his effort over the crossbar before Conte rung the changes and brought on both Alessandro Del Piero and Marco Borriello for Matri and De Ceglie with a quarter of an hour left to play.
Both substitutes had an immediate impact as Del Piero saw a trademark free-kick expertly pushed away by Cesena’s man-of-the-match before the onslaught on the Cavallucci Marini’s goal finally paid off as Borriello grabbed the lead moments later.
With 11 minutes to play, Vucinic nodded down for his fellow striker to lash home a first-time finish past a wrong-footed Antonioli and send the visiting supporters into delirium. It was Borriello’s inaugural goal in the black and white jersey since signing on a six-month loan from Roma in January.
The Bianconeri went in search of a second with the evergreen Del Piero spotting Antonioli off his line but his cheeky effort lacked pace and Cesena’s shotstopper was able to gather the ball easily.
Referee Marco Guida’s final whistle brought scenes of jubilation as the Old Lady maintained a tight grip on first place ahead of Milan with only five games to play.
Relive the Bianconeri's 1-0 win in Emilia-Romagna from two years ago by watching our exclusive match highlights: