05 May 2018
Juventus took a significant step towards winning a seventh straight Scudetto, coming from behind to beat Bologna 3-1 on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.
Trailing to Simone Verdi’s first-half penalty, the Bianconeri were spurred on by half-time substitute Douglas Costa who tore the visitors apart to set up Juve’s second and third goals, scored by Sami Khedira and Paulo Dybala respectively. Sebastien De Maio had turned into his own net from Juan Cuadrado’s cross to level the scores shortly after the break.
The win puts Massimiliano Allegri’s men seven points clear of Napoli, who must now get a result tomorrow against Torino to keep the Scudetto race alive.
BOLOGNA STRIKE FIRST
This was another night in which Juve needed to dig deep for a result, despite enjoying an early period of supremacy in which Gonzalo Higuain and Alex Sandro both brought smart saves out of visiting keeper, Antonio Mirante, while Daniele Rugani and Dybala both saw shots come to nothing.
As the clock approached the half-hour mark, the hosts were left ruing those missed opportunities, when referee Massimiliano Irrati pointed to the spot following a foul by Rugani inside the box. After a lengthy consultation with VAR, Verdi stood up and stroked home confidently from the spot to send the visitors in front.
The Bianconeri responded with plenty of pressure in the final third. Higuain tested Mirante once more with a bullet header from Cuadrado’s cross and the Colombian almost latched on to Alex Sandro’s teasing in-swinger from the opposite flank, only for Mirante to make the ball safe.
No doubt about who the busier keeper had been at half-time, but Bologna preserved their slender lead until the interval, but round II would be very different indeed.
THE COSTA EFFECT
Massimiliano Allegri brought on Douglas Costa for Blaise Matuidi for the start of the second half and the Brazilian made an instant impact, whipping in an excellent cross which very nearly met Cuadrado, at full stretch, at the far post.
All of a sudden, Juve were far more threatening from the wings and, just moments later, Cuadrado supplied a cross from the right from which De Maio unwittingly turned into his own net to level the scores at 1-1.
The hosts rode their luck on 59 minutes when Emil Krafth struck the outside of Gianluigi Buffon’s upright, but the Bianconeri never looked back from there, as the Costa effect turned the game on its head for good.
Douglas dug the ball out from his feet wide out on the left to send in a perfect, looping cross for Khedira to poke in gratefully at the far post.
Juve’s number 11 very nearly found the German in space again with an outrageous flick with the outside of his boot. Costa kept wreaking havoc and, just six minutes after setting up Sami’s goal, he darted to the byline and pulled back a pinpoint pass for Dybala to curl home exquisitely in front of an ecstatic Curva Sud.
In the 89th minute, there was still time for Costa to get the crowd off their seats yet again as he clipped a rabona inches past the upright with Mirante beaten all ends up. Needless to say, it would have comfortably won any goal of the season award, but the damage – and plenty of it – had already been done.
One step closer…