Juventus
    Juventus
      28.10.2014 19:06 - in: Serie A S

      Last time out against the Grifone

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      Andrea Pirlo’s spectacular set-piece settles a tight encounter away at Genoa in March 2014 as the Bianconeri open up a 17-point advantage over closest challengers Roma

      Following their 1-1 Europa League home draw with Fiorentina only three days earlier, Antonio Conte’s side were aiming to get a win against a stern Genoa outfit who had been beaten just once in their previous ten games on home soil.

      In a cagey opening to the second 2013/14 fixture between the two, Bianconeri youth graduate Giuseppe Sculli lashed a long-range effort over Gigi Buffon’s goal after just 300 seconds before Juventus were denied the chance to take the lead on the 20 minute mark.  

      Martin Caceres’ long ball forward caused all sorts of confusion at the heart of the Genoa backline before arriving at the feet of Dani Osvaldo who dinked the ball past shotstopper Mattia Perin before sidefooting home.

      The Italian international, though, was marginally offside in the build-up and had what would have been his fourth Serie A strike in as many games against the Grifone chalked off.

      The Bianconeri began to up the ante ahead of the interval, determined to break through a stubborn defence who were holding out admirably against the reigning champions.  

      With the clock ticking down to Mazzoleni’s half-time whistle, Paul Pogba majestically sauntered forward before exquisitely backheeling the ball into the path of Osvaldo who lifted it past Perin into the back of the net but once again was called offside.

      This time, however, the goal should have stood.

      As the game seeped into first-half injury-time, Pogba then had a go from distance in but his left-footed effort bounced a foot wide of the Genoa upright.

      The home side came out for the second period all guns blazing as they tried to take the game to their opponents.

      And they fashioned a chance with 56 minutes gone when Andrea Betolacci jinxed his way past the Bianconeri defence but saw Buffon stand tall to pull off a magnificent point-blank stop. The subsequent follow-up was fizzed inches wide by current Bianconeri defender Marco Motta.

      The turning point came with less than 20 minutes remaining when Genoa were awarded a spot-kick after Arturo Vidal was penalised for a handball within the 18-yard box, seconds after the away side had a penalty appeal of their own turned down.

      Buffon, who that night equalled Dino Zoff’s record of 476 appearances for the club, pushed away Emanuele Calaiò’s effort from 12 yards before Leonardo Bonucci cleared the ball away from danger.

      Buffon, who that night equalled Dino Zoff’s record of 476 appearances for the club, pushed away Emanuele Calaiò’s effort from 12 yards before Leonardo Bonucci cleared the ball away from danger.

      With the game somewhat petering out towards its conclusion, a moment of magic was needed to settle proceedings and up stepped Andrea Pirlo to provide the Bianconeri faithful with a showstopping instance in the last minute of normal time.

      Twenty-five yards from goal, the Maestro picked out the top corner with a sumptuous free-kick that bent past the despairing dive of Perin . It was a perfectly-executed set-piece worthy of winning any match.

      Mazzoleni’s final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation on the touchline as Juventus opened up a 17-point lead over Roma with 30 still to play for.

      Rewatch Gigi’s crucial penalty stop and Andrea’s last-gasp set-piece over and over again:

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