The Chilean midfielder on target in Sicily to hand the Bianconeri a 1-0 success and extend the team’s unbeaten run to 48 games
Arturo Vidal’s third championship goal of the season settled a tight encounter in Catania and extended the Bianconeri’s lead at the top of Serie A to six points.
With the game evenly poised following an entertaining first half, the Chilean pounced to sweep home on 57 minutes after Bendtner’s initial effort was parried by Andujar.
Conte made three changes from last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Napoli. Pogba stepped into midfield in place of the injured Marchisio, while Bendtner and Vucinic came in for Quagliarella and Giovinco in attack.
Despite Catania’s aggressive start to proceedings, Juventus immediately wrestled the opening exchanges back in their favour and began to command possession in the centre of midfield. Vidal had the first meaningful attempt on target with two minutes played, stinging the fingers of Andujar with a rasping effort from distance.
Bendtner, starting for the first time since completing a deadline day loan switch from Arsenal, looked lively up front and went close to capping off a neat move by steering Lichtsteiner’s low centre home from close range. Andujar, however, was alert to the danger, diving bravely to smother at the Dane’s feet to smother.
The Etnei reacted by raising their game and asking a few questions of the Juventus defence. Chiellini did well to prevent Almiron’s searching pass from reaching Bergessio, while Barzagli was on hand at the back post to turn Gomez’s cross away from the lurking Barrientos.
The turning point of the game arrived midway through the first half. With Bergessio wheeling away in celebration after tapping Lodi’s free-kick past Buffon, Gervasoni moved over to his assistant and, after a period of brief discussion, opted to rule the goal out for offside.
Juventus continued to press forward and Pogba, gaining increasing space in midfield, almost followed up his wonder goal against Napoli with a thunderous attempt that whistled over Andujar’s crossbar.
As the seconds ticked down towards the interval, Catania had Andujar to thank for keeping the scores level, with the goalkeeper pulling off a miraculous save to keep Vucinic’s close-range effort from crossing the line after the striker was fed by Bendtner’s knock down.
An unchanged Bianconeri emerged for the second half and cranked up the pressure on the hosts’ backline. Their persistence was rewarded 12 minutes inside the restart when Vidal tapped in from five yards out after Andujar had parried Bendtner’s initial attempt.
The goal breathed new life into the Chilean, who almost doubled his tally moments later, but dragged his effort wide of target after some fine individual work on the edge of the area.
The encounter tipped further in the Bianconeri’s balance when Marchese, already on a yellow card, was subsequently given his marching orders for deliberate handball midway through the second half.
With fresh legs required to capitalise on any potential breaks on the counter, Giovinco was introduced in place of Vucinic.
However, it was an inspired Vidal who almost made the points safe, only to see his low drive from the edge of the area turned around the post by man-of-the-match Andujar.
Giovinco went close in the dying stages, beating several opponents with a forward burst from deep, but failed to find the finish his good work merited.
CATANIA 0-1 JUVENTUS
GOAL: Vidal 57
Andujar; Rolin, Legrottaglie, Spolli; Izco, Lodi, Almiron (Biagianti 78), Barrientos (Castro 69), Marchese; Gomez (Morimoto 81), Bergessio
Substitutes not used: Frison, Messina, Potenza, Alvarez, Salifu, Capuano, Ricchiuti, Doukara.
Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Caceres 89), Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba (Padoin 90 +2), Asamoah; Vucinic (Giovinco 78), Bendtner
Substitutes not used: Storari, Rubinho, Marrone, De Ceglie, Isla, Giaccherini, Pepe, Quagliarella, Matri.
ASSISTANTS: Maggiani, Manganelli
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Musolino
BOOKINGS: Rolin 19, Asamoah 23, Spolli 28, Marchese 35, Legrottaglie 39, Marchese 67, Vidal 69
SENT OFF: Marchese 67