Vidal’s first-half double enables the Bianconeri to increase their command of Serie A to 11 points in tonight’s convincing 2-0 victory over Lazio
Juventus stretched their lead at the top of Serie A to 11 points following this evening’s convincing 2-0 victory over European-chasing Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Any fears of the visitors feeling the effects of Wednesday night’s Champions League elimination were swiftly allayed when Arturo Vidal converted from the spot with just nine minutes played.
And the Chilean found himself in the right place at the right time to double the advantage 20 minutes later, showing plenty of composure to clip the ball over the advancing Federico Marchetti and strengthen the Bianconeri’s grip on a priceless three points.
Despite the Bianconeri’s overall command on a memorable night in the capital, it was in fact Lazio who were quicker out the blocks during a lively start to the encounter. Hernanes had the first meaningful effort on goal with just three minutes played, drawing a diving save from Gigi Buffon who managed to prevent the ball from crossing the line for a corner.
But Juventus saw off the early threat and neat combination play between Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio, deployed in an unorthodox advanced role for the evening, resulted in the Montenegrin being sent to ground by Lorik Cana’s misjudged challenge from behind.
Referee Antonio Giannoccaro showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot, with Vidal stepping up to send Federico Marchetti the wrong way from 12 yards with nine minutes on the clock.
With the early goal forcing Lazio to commit added bodies forward in an attempt to find a way back into the affair, Juventus soaked up the pressure and looked to inflict further damage on the counter.
And they could have increased their lead when Vucinic turned Andrea Pirlo’s teasing free-kick goalwards with 20 minutes played, only for Marchetti to keep the ball from crossing the line with an instinctive block.
The visitors’ grip on proceedings served to increase their levels of confidence and only a magnificent last-gasp challenge from Michael Ciani prevented Vidal from rounding off a flowing move on 28 minutes.
But the Chilean only had to wait a minute before doubling his tally, capitalising on a loose ball in the area to lift a delicate finish over the advancing Marchetti and put the Bianconeri firmly in the driving seat shortly before the half-hour mark.
Lazio’s makeshift rearguard struggled to find answers to Juventus’ enterprising movement in the final third and were almost picking the ball out of the net for the third time in quick succession after Marchisio’s neatly-placed strike was diverted wide for a corner by Cana’s late intervention.
Conte’s men were ruthless in their approach and sought to heap further misery on their shell-shocked opponents ahead of the half-time whistle. After seeing his initial strike from the edge of the area foiled by Marchetti, Paul Pogba went a whisker away from guiding Stephan Lichtsteiner’s teasing right-sided delivery inside the far post.
Faced with a mountain to climb following his side’s below par first-half display, Lazio boss Vladimir Petkovic opted to shuffle his pack at the interval, introducing Ederson and Libor Kozak at the expense of Stefano Mauri and Hernanes.
And the new arrivals succeeded in breathing new life into the hosts, with Juventus having Gigi Buffon to thank for maintaining their two-goal cushion following a superb save from Ciani’s bullet header at the near post.
Yet the Bianconeri kept plugging away and should have been home and dry when Marchisio reacted quickest to Pirlo’s parried free-kick on 55 minutes, only for the midfielder to send his follow-up over the crossbar with the goal gaping.
Conte elected to shuffle his pack at differing points throughout the second period, sacrificing Lichtsteiner, Vucinic and Marchisio for Simone Padoin, Fabio Quagliarella and Emanuele Giaccherini.
But despite an improved second-half performance from the hosts, Juventus managed to weather a late flurry of chances to record this season’s first victory over the Biancocelesti at the fourth time of asking.
The result, coupled with last night’s draw between nearest Scudetto challengers Napoli and Milan, enables the Bianconeri to boost their lead at the summit of Serie A and take another significant step towards reclaiming last season’s title.
LAZIO 0-2 JUVENTUS
GOALS: Vidal (pen) 9, Vidal 28
Marchetti; Gonzalez, Ciani, Cana, Stankevicius; Candreva, Onazi, Ledesma (Crecco 68), Hernanes (Kozak 46), Mauri (Ederson 46); Klose.
Substitutes not used: Bizzarri, Strakosha, Serpieri, Antic, Cataldi, Saha, Floccari, Rozzi.
Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso; Lichtsteiner (Padoin 67), Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Marchisio (Giaccherini 88); Vucinic (Quagliarella 86).
Substitutes not used: Storari, Rubinho, Caceres, Marrone, De Ceglie, Isla, Matri.
ASSISTANTS: Posado, Padovan
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Viazzi
BOOKED: Cana 7, Vidal 14, Peluso 41, Ciani 53