First half strikes from Matri and Lichtsteiner see off Chievo to lift Juve three points clear of Napoli at the summit of Serie A
Juventus moved three points clear of Napoli at the summit of Serie A following a 2-1 victory over Chievo at the Stadio Bentegodi.
Alessandro Matri put the visitors ahead after ten minutes via a spectacular volley and Stephan Lichtsteiner slotted home to double the advantage on the stroke of half time.
Cyril Thereau gave the Gialloblu hope after the break, but the Bianconeri survived an early second half revival to register a richly deserved success which brought an end to Eugenio Corini’s unbeaten record on home soil.
The visitors were in the driving seat in the early stages of the match and with just ten minutes on the clock, Vidal and Matri combined brilliantly to open the scoring. The Chilean midfielder picked the ball up just outside the opposition box and floated in a sublime pass over the defence. Matri gained a few crucial yards of space after ghosting in behind his marker and then slammed home a powerful left-footed volley.
Chievo did have chances in the half to equalise, Buffon was called into action after 31 minutes and had to be alert to rush out and put in a slide tackle against Paloschi after an effective counter-attack from the hosts. However, their best opportunity stemmed from a sustained spell of pressure which culminated in an effort from Paloschi, who was denied at the near post by Buffon.
The Bianconeri also had several opportunities to double their advantage. Matri combined with Giovinco, who got in behind the defence but saw his right-footed effort roll wide of the far post. Minutes later, a cunning free kick from Pirlo caught the Gialloblu defence unawares as he set up Vidal for a volley, but the Chilean’s shot was thwarted by a deflection which took the ball behind for a corner.
Juve doubled the advantage just before the interval thanks to more great combination play from the all-italian strike partnership. Matri squared a pass back to Giovinco, who took control and laid a clever backheel to Lichtsteiner. The Swiss full back then steadied himself before unleashing a powerful strike which flew past Puggioni.
Corini looked to change things up for the hosts at half time via a double substitution in an attempt to find a way back into the game.
The Gialloblu began the second half in the ascendency and saw their efforts rewarded within seven minutes of the restart. Thereau put the hosts back in the contest as he charged into the box to pounce on a loose clearance, bundling the ball past Buffon with the aid of a slight deflection.
In the aftermath of the goal, Juve seemed to spark back to life and immediately strived to re-establish their two goal cushion. Pirlo was pulling the strings in the middle of the park, while Pogba and De Ceglie were causing Corini’s men a whole host of problems with their maurauding runs into space.
The most notable opporunity of the half came from Pogba who attempted an acrobatic flick from De Ceglie’s cross. The Frenchman’s effort took a deflection and dropped just wide of the post.
Juventus were unable to break through the hosts’ rearguard in the second half but nevertheless ended the encounter in the driving seat and calmly saw out a 2-1 victory.
The triumph breathes new life into the Bianconeri’s title defence ahead of a testing run of fixtures which resumes with next Saturday’s visit of Fiorentina.
CHIEVO 1-2 JUVENTUS
GOALS: Matri 10, Lichtsteiner 42, Thereau 52
Puggioni; Sampirisi (Seymour 46), Dainelli, Andreolli, Cesar (Acerbi 46), Jokic; Hetemaj, L. Rigoni, Cofie (Pellissier 74); Thereau, Paloschi.
Substitutes not used: Squizzi, Ujkani, Vacek, Frey, Papp, Farkas, Spyropoulos, Guana, Stoian.
Buffon; Barzagli, Marrone, Caceres; Lichtsteiner (Padoin 79), Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, De Ceglie; Matri (Isla 88), Giovinco (Quagliarella 58).
Substitutes not used: Storari, Rubinho, Peluso, Giaccherini, Anelka.
ASSISTANTS: Niccolai, Grilli
FOURTH OFFICIAL: De Luca
BOOKINGS: Cesar 35, Cofie 62, De Ceglie 71