The ‘Little Prince’ joins Pirlo on the scoresheet in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Serie A surprise package Siena
A late Claudio Marchisio strike saw off Siena to pull the Bianconeri three points clear of Napoli at the top of Serie A.
It appeared that luck was not going to fall on the side of the visitors who had dominated for large spells at Artemio Franchi but found it tough to penetrate Siena’s resolute defence following the interval.
Pirlo’s third free-kick of the season had broken the deadlock early on, only for Conte’s men to find themselves pegged back by Calaio’s header on the stroke of half time.
However, with the seconds ticking down in Tuscany, Marchisio pounced on a loose ball in the box to crash home an emphatic finish and maintain the Bianconeri’s strong record on Tuscan soil.
Conte was forced into a defensive reshuffle after Bonucci picked up his fourth yellow card of the season in last Saturday’s 4-1 demolition of Roma. Marrone, who spent the 2010/11 campaign on loan at Siena, took his place at the heart of the Bianconeri rearguard, while Giovinco was given the nod to partner Vucinic up front.
The hosts, who had their tails up following an impressive start to the season, had an excellent opportunity to go in front inside the opening few minutes. Rosina was picked in a good position on the edge of the area but was unable to make a clean connection and Buffon gathered comfortably.
Having survived an early scare, Juventus soon settled into their natural rhythm and took a deserved lead when Andrea Pirlo drilled home a powerful free-kick on 14 minutes.
Despite the Bianconeri commanding possession, Siena refused to lie down and almost found themselves on level terms ten minutes later. Ze Eduardo cut the ball back for Calaio but the striker was left to rue a golden opportunity after dragging wide with the goal at his mercy.
An impressive five minutes then followed in which the visitors created two excellent goalscoring opportunities. First, Pirlo rattled the bar with a delicious 25-yard free-kick that left Pegolo motionless. Then, Marchisio tested the goalkeeper’s reflexes courtesy of a well-struck effort which bent menacingly towards the top corner.
But Juventus were soon made to regret their missed opportunities as they were stunned by an equaliser against the run of play. A cross from the right flank picked out Calaio at the back post and the striker made amends for his earlier miss by crashing a header past Buffon on the stroke of half time.
With Asamoah on in place of De Ceglie, Juventus began the second half with the same swagger and control displayed in the opening period. Men were committed forward in numbers to swarm in and around the hosts’ penalty area - but that crucial opening continued to prove elusive.
Vucinic, Giovinco and Vidal went close to beating Pegolo, while down the other end Chiellini was grateful for Buffon’s reflexes after seeing his blushes spared by a fine reaction save.
With time running out at the Artemio Franchi, Juventus grew bolder in their approach. Lichtsteiner and Marrone were sacrificed for Giaccherini and Quagliarella, with the visitors reverting to the ambitious 4-3-3 system used at the start of last season.
And fortune proved to favour the brave as Marchisio silenced the Artemio Franchi with a close range finish in the dying stages.
The midfielder’s priceless intervention – and first goal of the season – maintains Juve’s supremacy at the summit of Serie A ahead of the international break. Next up, a mouth-watering top of the table clash with Napoli at Juventus Stadium.
SIENA 1-2 JUVENTUS
GOALS: Pirlo 14, Calaiò 45(+2), Marchisio 85
Pegolo; Neto, Paci, Felipe; Angelo (Bolzoni 68), Vergassola, Rodriguez, Del Grosso; Rosina (Reginaldo 80), Zè Eduardo (Sestu 54), Calaiò.
Substitutes not used: Farelli, Campagnolo, Dellafiore, Mannini, Rubin, Verre, Valiani, Paolucci, Bogdani.
Buffon; Barzagli, Marrone (Quagliarella 80), Chiellini; Lichsteiner (Giaccherini 68), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, De Ceglie (Asamoah 46); Giovinco, Vucinic.
Substitutes not used: Storari, Rubinho, Isla, Lucio, Caceres, Pogba, Padoin, Bendtner, Matri, Quagliarella.
ASSISTANTS: Bianchi, Iannello
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Stefani
BOOKINGS: Felipe 13, Chiellini 22, Zè Eduardo 26, De Ceglie 46, Rosina 46, Paci 76, Vucinic 93, Vegassola 93
SENT OFF: Cosmi sent to the stands