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06 Dec 2013 - in: Serie A

Vidal and Chiellini send Juve into seventh heaven

Arturo Vidal and Giorgio Chiellini chalk up the Bianconeri’s seventh successive Serie A triumph with goals either side of half-time in this evening’s 2-0 win over Bologna

Goals either side of half-time from Arturo Vidal and Giorgio Chiellini allowed the Bianconeri to extend their winning Serie A run to seven consecutive games with this evening’s 2-0 victory over Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.

The Chilean gave the hosts the lead their spirited introduction deserved when he collected Federico Peluso’s searching pass into the penalty area before dispatching a clinical strike beyond Gianluca Curci with 12 minutes played.

And Chiellini, a force to be reckoned with throughout, wrapped up the success in the dying stages of the game, climbing highest in the area to power substitute Carlos Tevez’s inswinging corner into the roof of the net.  

Several chances were created by the visitors during an entertaining 90 minutes in Emilia-Romagna, but the one statistic that does matter – all three points – ensures their league supremacy will remain unaffected regardless of Roma’s result in Sunday’s meeting with Fiorentina.

With one eye on Tuesday night’s crunch Champions League tie with Galatasaray, Antonio Conte elected to freshen up his starting line-up in Emilia-Romagna, making six changes from the side which started last Sunday’s 1-0 success over Udinese.

In came Angelo Ogbonna at the expense of Leonardo Bonucci, Mauricio Isla stepped in for Simone Padoin on the right flank and Federico Peluso was handed his second start of the season as Paolo De Ceglie dropped to the substitutes bench.

Further forward, Paul Pogba replaced Andrea Pirlo in midfield, while Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Quagliarella were given the nod ahead of the regular pairing of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente in attack.

An encouraging start saw Juventus immediately take the game to their opponents, gaining particular joy down the right-hand side. Isla, starting his first game following his return to full fitness, saw a teasing cross pushed away by Gianluca Curci, before Quagliarella tried his luck with a trademark piledriver that flashed wide of the target.

The Bianconeri did not have to wait too much longer for their positive approach to pay dividends. After Claudio Marchisio saw his instinctive toe-poke towards goal cleared off the line, Conte’s men kept up the heat and worked the ball out to Peluso, whose right-footed hook into the area was gleefully smashed home by Vidal on 12 minutes.

Hungry for more, Juventus, now comfortably in control of proceedings, kept their foot on the accelerator and could have extended their advantage through half-chances squandered by Quagliarella and Ogbonna in the space of a minute.  

The visitors, however, were warned of Bologna’s intentions to get back on level terms when dead ball specialist Alessandro Diamanti swung in a dangerous free-kick which was pushed clear to safety by an alert Gigi Buffon midway through the first half.   

What was shaping up to be an intriguing duel between the two Azzurri internationals manifested itself again 10 minutes later, Buffon blocking a venomous strike struck crisply by the playmaker on the fringes of the area.

A more adventurous Bologna approach, encouraged by boss Stefano Pioli during yesterday’s press conference, was now beginning to come to the fore as the crowd urged them forward.

But they had to remain alert to the threat possessed by the Bianconeri on the break and in particular the lively presence of Quagliarella, who frequently dropped deep to good effect before turning and driving at the heart of the hosts’ rearguard.

His strike partner Vucinic was equally as effective during the first half, intelligently bringing team-mates into play with some neat touches, but saw his evening come to a premature conclusion after receiving a knock to his left knee, Llorente coming on in his place.    

Whilst the game had become increasingly stretched towards the end of the first 45 minutes, a densely-packed midfield, coupled with a string of stoppages for free-kicks, made for a somewhat scrappy opening of the restart.

Marchisio’s ambitious strike which drifted beyond the far post provided the Bianconeri’s first goal threat, while Llorente’s angled left-footed drive from the edge of the box was thwarted by Curci’s diving save.

As the minutes passed, the Spaniard looked increasingly in tune with his new strike partner and did brilliantly to shrug off the challenge of Cesare Natali before firing in a shot from just outside the six-yard box which was instinctively blocked by the Rossoblu shotsopper on 62 minutes.    

Now with Kwadwo Asamoah and Carlos Tevez on for Peluso and Quagliarella, Juventus appeared galvanised by the fresh legs and could have stretched their advantage when Llorente found himself onside and in behind the hosts’ back three, only for the summer signing’s unselfish square ball to Tevez to be read to perfection by an onrushing Curci.

With the pendulum tipping back and forth as the clock ticked down towards the final 15 minutes, it was Bologna who threatened next, substitute Jonathan Cristaldo dragging an effort across the face of goal after momentarily outwitting Chiellini on the edge of the penalty area.

Down the other end, further chances continued to fall the Bianconeri’s way, Marchisio seeing his left-footed attempt at the back post parried over the bar on 78 minutes.

After surviving a brief scare when Archimede Morleo climbed above Isla to head Diamanti’s cross just past the post, Juventus were again left to rue a stellar performance by Cerci as the goalkeeper somehow kept out Llorente’s clipped effort just yards shy of the goalline.

But there was little he could do about the goal that would dash any hopes of a last-gasp Bologna fightback, Chiellini rising to head Tevez’s corner home and spark scenes of jubilation in the visitors’ dugout.