29 November 2015
The Bianconeri sealed a fourth straight league win by beating Palermo 3-0 on Sunday evening at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, as Mario Mandzukic, Stefano Sturaro and Simone Zaza all found the target.
After an opening ten minutes in which the hosts took the game to Massimiliano Allegri’s men, the visitors went on to take control of proceedings, enjoying over two-thirds of possession and fashioning a couple of dangerous chances, but Leonardo Bonucci was unable to steer his header on target when unchallenged in front of goal.
Juventus maintained the intensity with which they had finished the first half into the second and on 54 minutes they would take the lead with the game’s very first shot on target. Paulo Dybala’s menacing cross invited Mandzukic to get his head onto the ball ahead of his marker before nodding powerfully past Stefano Sorrentino in the Palermo net to register his fourth goal in all competitions since 25 October.
The rest of the second period would be distinctly short on incident until the 89th minute when Sturaro collected Paul Pogba’s smart through ball and the midfielder kept his cool to shoot low into the bottom corner.
Then, in the third minute of injury time, Zaza made no mistake after receiving Alvaro Morata’s pass, placing a composed finish inside Sorrentino’s near post to wrap up Juventus’ fourth successive Serie A win, which sees them rise to fifth place in the table.
Palermo entered the encounter on the back of a credible draw away to Lazio in Davide Ballardini’s first match back in charge of the club and his players looked keen to impress their new manager for a second weekend in a row, as they started the match brightly with Franco Vazquez particularly busy. The playmaker set up Oscar Hiljemark on the edge of the box for the first meaningful effort on goal after nine minutes, but the Swedish midfielder’s shot sailed over the bar.
For all the hosts’ early intensity, it would be Juventus to come closest to opening the scoring, when Mandzukic very nearly latched onto Juan Cuadrado’s awkward, looping cross, which evaded the reach of Rosanero keeper Sorrentino.
This triggered a period of Bianconeri dominance in which they saw over two-thirds of the ball by the midway point in the first half, but neither Mandzukic nor Pogba could convert the half chances that came their way, while Giorgio Chiellini headed wide from a corner.
Alberto Gilardino had barely seen the ball in the preceding 29 minutes, but the experienced forward wriggled his way into the box and fired venomously across the goalmouth just shy of the half-hour mark in what was his side’s most dangerous chance so far.
Meanwhile, down the other end of the pitch, a truly gilt-edged opportunity fell the way of Bonucci on 34 minutes, the defender meeting Dybala’s corner unchallenged but he could not direct his effort on goal.
Just five minutes later, it would be the Argentine’s turn to flash a header of his own wide of Sorrentino’s upright with nobody in pink and black nearby.
The Bianconeri maintained the upper hand over proceedings after the interval and they would take the lead with the game’s very first shot on target after 54 minutes.
Picking up the ball wide on the left flank, Dybala swung in a pinpoint cross into the box and Mandzukic used all of his upper-body strength and attacking intent to outjump his marker and nod powerfully into the bottom corner.
On 66 minutes Cuadrado might have doubled the visitors’ advantage when he skipped into the box and unleashed a venomous drive from a tight angle, which was well saved by Sorrentino.
The Bianconeri were looking comfortable at 1-0, with the Rosanero unable to put them under any real form of pressure, as efforts on goal would be few and far between for the remainder of the second period.
That is until the 89th minute when Sturaro swept home Pogba’s pass with the sort of calm and composure that a striker would have been proud of.
Right on cue was Zaza, who took Morata’s centre into his stride before placing clinically past Sorrentino to make sure of the victory that sees Allegri’s men climb two places into fifth place in Serie A, where they now sit six points off table-topping Inter
Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Cuadrado (Lichtsteiner 68), Sturaro, Marchisio, Pogba, Evra, Mandzukic (Morata 67), Dybala (Zaza 84)
Unused substitutes: Neto, Rubinho, Rugani, Alex Sandro, Padoin, Vitale
Sorrentino, Struna (Rispoli 74), Goldaniga, Gonzalez, Lazaar, Hiljemark (Quaison 60), Jajalo, Chochev, Brugman, Vazquez, Gilardino (Trajkovski 68)
Unused substitutes: Alastra, Colombi, Andelkovic, Maresca, Daprelà, El Kaoutari