13 December 2015
Opportunity knocked to close the gap on the leaders this evening and the Bianconeri were there to answer. Falling behind early on, strikes by Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala saw them fight back in resounding fashion to register Serie A win number five over Fiorentina at Juventus Stadium and subsequently rise to fourth place in the Serie A standings.
An explosive start to the match saw the visitors get their noses in front in only the third minute when Josip Ilicic converted his sixth penalty of the campaign after Giorgio Chiellini was adjudged to have felled Federico Bernardeschi in the box.
The Bianconeri would not trail for long however, Cuadrado nodding in the equaliser against his former club from Patrice Evra’s cross a matter of minutes later.
Dybala forced opposition keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu into a couple of saves in the following 20 minutes, but chances for either side to take a half-time lead were few and far between as the teams entered the break on level terms.
Opportunities to steal an advantage were in even shorter supply during the second period, but goals by Mandzukic and Dybala in 12 electric minutes at the end eventually decided the contest in the hosts’ favour, who were left celebrating a 71st Serie A win against the Viola, which takes them to within six points of leaders Inter.
Fiorentina entered the encounter as the division’s joint-highest scorers in Serie A, with six of their 30 strikes having come from the spot and they would make it seven out of seven as early as the third minute when Chiellini brought down Bernardeschi in the box. After consulting the goal-line official, referee Daniele Orsato awarded a penalty and Ilicic made no mistake from 11 yards out.
Just three minutes later, however, the disappointment of conceding so early on vanished, as neat build-up play down the left saw Evra swing in a menacing cross for Cuadrado to send a looping header over Tatarusanu and in to level the scores.
The goal sparked a period of Bianconeri pressure, in which Dybala might have given his side the lead on 14 minutes, but Tatarusanu ultimately made light work of stopping the Argentine’s centrally-hit shot.
The Romanian keeper would have to be more alert to Dybala’s next attempt ten minutes later, the forward shooting through a sea of players to bring a smart save out of Fiorentina’s last line of defence.
Paulo Sousa’s men were playing the high possession game that has characterised much of their campaign (enjoying 59.9 per cent of the ball before the break), but they were unable to penetrate Juventus’ backline nor trouble Gigi Buffon during the remainder of the first half.
Indeed, it would be the hosts to pose the greater threat going forward, as the Viola were kept on their toes with a number of crosses being whipped in by assist-provider Evra.
Nevertheless, clear-cut chances to take the lead came at a premium, as Paul Pogba and Leonardo Bonucci each sent long-range efforts wide of the mark. Fiorentina, on the other hand, entered the interval having netted their only shot on target.
The second period would follow a similar pattern, with the visitors persisting with their neat passing game and the Bianconeri, once again, having the better of the goalscoring opportunities.
Just shy of the hour mark, Dybala latched on to another of Evra’s balls into the box before turning on a sixpence and shooting whiskers wide of Tatarusanu’s upright.
As Juve began to force their visitors back, Mandzukic rose highest to meet Dybala’s free-kick in the 70th minute, but could not keep his header down.
Ten minutes later, however, the Croatian forward would be celebrating, after showing all of the predatory qualities that have now seen him score four times in his last six matches.
The move started with Pogba playing an incisive through pass into Dybala’s path. Tatarusanu managed to get a block on La Joya’s attempted chip, but Mandzukic arrived first at the scene, blasting the loose ball into the back of the net.
The Viola stopper did well to keep out Stefano Sturaro’s header just one minute later, as the hosts pressed vehemently for a third goal of the evening.
And that’s precisely what they would attain in the second minute of injury time, as Dybala capped off another brilliant personal performance with a mesmerising run through Fiorentina’s rearguard and clinical finish beyond Tatarusanu to trigger deafening cheers from all clad in black and white.
The win sees the Bianconeri rise to fourth place on 30 points, two behind Sousa’s charges and six off Inter at the Serie A summit.