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25 Aug 2012

Juve victorious in Serie A opener

Lichtsteiner follows up last season’s exploits by netting against the Gialloblu on the opening day. Pirlo’s free-kick makes the points safe

Juventus began their title defence with a 2-0 victory as second-half strikes from Lichtsteiner and Pirlo saw off the challenge of Parma.

The Bianconeri toiled in the opening period to break down a confident Gialloblu side that ended last season with seven straight victories. But goals from Lichtsteiner and Pirlo provided the perfect reward for the hosts’ purposeful second-half display.

With Lucio missing through injury and Chiellini still short of match fitness, young midfielder Marrone was deployed alongside Barzagli and Bonucci in a three-man rearguard. Giovinco was chosen to face his former employers alongside Vucinic up front.

In truth, the visitors looked the better of the two sides in the opening period, denying the Bianconeri time and space on the ball and looking to break using Biabiany’s blistering pace on the counter.

Conte’s men remained patient, however, and carved out their first goalscoring opportunity when Vucinic connected with Pirlo’s free-kick on 18 minutes. The striker glanced the ball goalwards but saw his header nestle on the roof of the net.

An even better chance to break the deadlock arrived shortly after the half-hour mark. Lichtsteiner found himself deep inside Gialloblu territory and attempted to round Mirante before being sent tumbling in the box. The goalkeeper, however, had the last laugh – diving low to his right to keep out Vidal’s spot-kick.

Juventus looked a different prospect after the break and pressurised the Gialloblu from the first whistle. Asamoah, who shone throughout, had an opportunity to test Mirante minutes after the restart but was unable to dispatch a clean strike on goal.

Good work from Vidal then sent Vucinic scampering into the box but the striker saw his close-range effort denied by his opposite number.  

Juve’s increased momentum paid dividends when Asamoah beat Rosi to send in a teasing cross from the byline on 54 minutes. The first goalscorer of the 2011/12 campaign, Lichtsteiner, kept to the script by reading the Ghanaian’s pass to perfection and slamming the ball home from close range.

Having finally broken Parma’s stern resistance, the buoyant Bianconeri sensed a second goal on the horizon. This came four minutes later courtesy of Pirlo’s free-kick, which squirmed under Mirante’s grasp and was deemed to have edged over the line.

With a two-goal cushion established, Juventus relaxed and settled into their familiar passing game. They did, however, need to remain mindful of Parma’s threat on the counter, with Storari called into action to deny both Ninis and Gobbi with a superb double save.

Yet the champions held on to secure a perfect start to their 2012/13 campaign and maintain Massimo Carrera’s fine start to life in the dugout.


GOALS: Lichtsteiner 54, Pirlo 58

Storari; Bonucci, Marrone, Barzagli; Lichtsteiner (Padoin 78), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Giovinco (De Ceglie 87), Vucinic (Matri 79).
Substitutes not used: Leali, Branescu, Masi, Chiellini, Pogba, Giaccherini, Quagliarella, Boakye.
Coach: Conte (Carrera)

Mirante; Zaccardo, Paletta, Lucarelli; Rosi (Pellè 81), Acquah (Ninis 58) , Parolo, Valdes, Gobbi; Pabon (Belfodil 58), Biabiany.
Substitutes not used: Pavarini, Bazja, Fideleff, Benalouane, Morrone, Musacci, Modesto.
Coach: Donadoni

ASSISTANTS: Petrella, De Luca

BOOKINGS: Biabiany 4, Giovinco 11, Acquah 25, Mirante 33, Lucarelli 57, Paletta 67, Valdes 73