20.02.2015 23:01 - in: Serie A S

    Pirlo magic inspires Juve to Atalanta triumph

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    A superb Andrea Pirlo effort from 25 yards proves the winning goal as Juventus battle back from behind to beat the Nerazzurri 2-1 at Juventus Stadium

    A spectacular strike from Andrea Pirlo helped Juventus battle back from behind to secure tonight’s 2-1 win over Atalanta, a result that extends the league leaders’ advantage at the top of Serie A to 10 points ahead of the remainder of this weekend’s fixtures.

    Early Bianconeri territorial dominance looked to be all in vein when relegation-threatened Atalanta grabbed a shock lead midway through the first half, Giulio Migliaccio rising highest to nod Urby Emanuelson’s corner in off the post.

    The reaction it produced, however, was devastating. First Fernando Llorente picked up the pieces from a matter of yards following a goalmouth scramble on 39 minutes, before Pirlo plucked another pearler from his seemingly endless repertoire to put the hosts in front on the stroke of half-time.

    A second half characterised by heavy spells of Juventus possession but low on clear-cut chances then ensued, although a late Nerazzurri rally did set a few nerves jangling before Massimiliano Irrati’s final whistle confirmed an important three points for the reigning champions.

    Massimiliano Allegri’s team, featuring five changes from last Sunday in Cesena, started the game with plenty of possession and territorial dominance but made hard work of breaking down an Atalanta outfit content to sit deep and soak up the pressure.

    A rare opportunity to break on the counter provided the stimulus for the visitors to enjoy some time in the final third and after Daniele Baselli’s strike from point-blank range was kept out by Gigi Buffon’s heroics, Migliaccio silenced the Juventus Stadium crowd by heading home the resulting corner on 25 minutes.

    Back came the Bianconeri, with Roberto Pereyra going a whisker away from levelling matters just two minutes later, only to find Marco Sportiello there to make the block at his near post.

    The goalkeeper’s services were once again required little over 10 minutes later to block Martin Caceres’ drive that swerved ominously inside his near post, although there was little he could do about Llorente’s leveller from the ensuing corner, the forward applying the crucial touch six minutes ahead of the break following a scramble in the six-yard box.

    And with the volume inside Juventus Stadium lifting after the equaliser, Pirlo brought the roof off with a sumptuous strike from 25 yards on the stroke of half-time.

    Encouraging the Bianconeri to keep pushing forward when speaking to the media at half-time, Pirlo’s sentiments were seemingly echoed by his team-mates on the pitch during a fast-paced introduction to the second half.

    Moving forward with greater ease, Juventus fashioned a decent opportunity to extend their advantage nine minutes into the restart when Pereyra picked out an unmarked Paul Pogba arriving at pace, but Sportiello found himself well positioned to make a crucial block at his near post.

    With the league leaders looking comfortable, Allegri took the opportunity to shuffle his pack at varying stages of the second half, introducing Stephan Lichtsteiner and Alvaro Morata to the fold in place of  Pogba and Carlos Tevez respectively.

    Morata went closest to extending the lead in the final 10 minutes with a direct run at goal after leaving marker Andrea Masiello trailing in his wake, but was unable to produce the required finish once inside the penalty area.

    Back to winning ways following Sunday’s draw in Cesena, Juventus will now turn their attentions to gaining an important foothold in their two-legged Champions League last 16 tie with Borussia Dortmund when they welcome the Germans to Turin on Tuesday evening.

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