A solitary Gervinho strike on 79 minutes hands Roma victory in this evening’s Coppa Italia quarter-final encounter at the Stadio Olimpico
The Bianconeri saw their Coppa Italia adventure come to an end at the quarter-final stages following this evening’s narrow 1-0 defeat to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between on a night where the majority of the play remained concentrated in a congested midfield area over the course of a combative 90 minutes in the capital.
Yet the hosts made the most of the one decent opportunity that did fall in their favour - one of the two shots on target all evening - by pouncing on the counter to topple the reigning Serie A champions with Gervinho’s goal 11 minutes from time.
It was Rudi Garcia’s men who started the better of the two sides, pressing deep into the Bianconeri’s half as they sought to gain an early advantage from the vociferous backing afforded to them by a full house at the Olimpico.
Significant goalscoring opportunities, however, were conspicuous in their absence during the initial exchanges, with early speculative strikes from Radja Nainggolan and Alessandro Florenzi failing to trouble the recalled Marco Storari.
A cagey opening 20 minutes, in which both sides sized each other up tactically, almost sprang into life when Vasilis Torosidis picked out the late arrival of Kevin Strootman, who went inches away from making a connection at the back post.
As a vastly-changed Juventus line-up continued to battle against rising Roma pressure, Francesco Totti unleashed a menacing shot from distance which flew just wide of Storari’s near post on the half-hour mark.
Out to avenge their 3-0 defeat at Juventus Stadium a fortnight ago, Rudi Garcia’s men enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and spent increased periods camped out in the visitors’ half as the clock edged towards half-time.
With Angelo Ogbonna on in place of Giorgio Chiellini at the beginning of the restart, Juventus went immediately on the attack and thought they had broken the deadlock inside the opening 60 seconds through Federico Peluso’s far post header, only for Paolo Tagliavento to instantly rule his effort out after Mauricio Isla’s cross was adjudged to have crept over the byline.
Roma, unbeaten at home across the entire campaign, got back into their stride and Florenzi had Bianconeri hearts fluttering with a glancing header from Torosidis’ cross that dropped just wide of the upright.
But Juventus stood tall in the face of one-way traffic and in particular had Andrea Barzagli to thank for a timely interception that prevented Totti’s inviting delivery from reaching a clutch of players lurking in the area.
With no way past the league’s strongest defence, Conte opted to change strategy as the game ebbed towards its dying stages, replacing Sebastian Giovinco with Fernando Llorente.
Yet the Spaniard had little time to make an impact as Juventus found themselves picking the ball out of the net just moments after his introduction, Gervinho turning Strootman’s cutback home from close range on 79 minutes.
Conte’s response was instant, sacrificing Peluso for Tevez in a bid to find a goal to send the encounter into extra-time. But a late assault on Roma’s final third ultimately proved in vain as Tagliavento’s final whistle brought the curtain down on the Bianconeri’s Coppa Italia journey for the 2013/14 season.
Juventus will look to exorcise the demons of this evening’s trip to the capital when they resume championship duties with Saturday night’s Serie A fixture against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.