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23 Jan 2013

All to play for in Rome

The Bianconeri’s 1-1 draw in tonight’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg leaves the tie wide open. Late Mauri equaliser cancels out Peluso’s header

A last-gasp Stefano Mauri strike cancelled out Federico Peluso’s opener to leave both Juventus and Lazio with a share of the spoils from tonight’s Coppa Italia semi-final first leg at Juventus Stadium.

Antonio Conte’s men took the lead when Peluso guided home a glancing header on 63 minutes, but were made to pay for a momentary lapse of concentration which enabled Mauri to bundle the ball home at the back post with four minutes remaining.

The Bianconeri continued from where they left off on Saturday against Udinese. They started the game very much in the driving seat and had the better chances of the initial exchanges. It took less than a minute for Lazio’s back-line to be breached when only a fine piece of keeping from Marchetti prevented Matri and Marchisio combining to establish an early advantage.

However, it was not all plain sailing for Conte’s men in the first-half and by the interval, Lazio would argue they had the more clear cut chances. The best opportunity of the half fell to Mauri but Barzagli produced an excellent piece of last-ditch defending to poke the ball behind for a corner.

Matri was a prominent figure in the opening stages of the second half and had several promising chances to give Juve the lead. The most notable opportunity stemmed from an innocuous position in Juve’s defence. Marrone flighted a sublime pass into the path of the former Cagliari frontman, whose first time volley required a good save from Marchetti to tip it over for a corner.

After two threatening opportunities from corners in the first half, the Bianconeri finally made their pressure tell on 63 minutes. Peluso crowned his second start in style by towering above the visitors’ rearguard to steer Giaccherini’s pinpoint cross into the bottom corner for his first goal in the black and white stripes.

The opener prompted Conte to re-think his plans for an attacking switch and instead opted to delay Vucnic’s introduction. However, despite this, the Bianconeri refused to rest on their laurels and continued to stream forward in numbers as they sought to double the advantage.

Arturo Vidal in particular had two great chances in quick succession. For the first, he was released into a one-on-one situation by an immaculate through ball from Matri, but the finish struck the upright and the Chilean midfielder was narrowly beaten to the rebound. Soon after, the 25-year-old stormed forward with purpose from midfield but saw his looping header denied by a Marchetti at full stretch.

With time running out, Lazio’s late efforts for an equaliser came to fruition when Mauri stole in at the back post to snatch an away goal for Petkovic’s men. The Bianconeri had some half chances in the dying stages and nearly grabbed the winner after hesitancy in the Lazio defence almost produced clear cut chances for Matri and Vucinic.

The result was rough justice on Juventus who had dominated for large spells of the game but once again came up against a formidable Marchetti in the Biancocelesti goal. The shot stopper, who earned rave reviews for keeping Conte’s men at bay in November’s goalless shutout, pulled of a string of fine saves to keep Lazio’s unbeaten streak intact.

The tie hangs in the balance and all will be decided during next Tuesday’s second leg in the capital.

JUVENTUS 1-1 LAZIO

GOALS: Peluso 63, Mauri 86

JUVENTUS
Storari; Bonucci (Caceres 43), Marrone, Barzagli; Isla, Vidal, Pogba, Giaccherini, Peluso (De Ceglie 71); Marchisio (Vucinic 77), Matri.
Substitutes not used: Rubinho, Gagliardini, Rugani, Pol Garcia, Lichtsteiner, Padoin, Schiavone, Kabashi, Beltrame.
Manager: Conte.

LAZIO
Marchetti, Cavanda, Biava (Radu 82), Ciani, Lulic; Ledesma (Candreva 70); Gonzalez, Cana, Hernanes (Brocchi 82), Mauri; Floccari.
Substitutes not used: Bizzarri, Carrizo, Scaloni, Zauri, Kozak, Rozzi.
Manager: Petkovic.

REFEREE: Damato
ASSISTANTS: Di Fiore, La Rocca
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Guida

BOOKINGS: Hernanes 45, Ciani 90