A second-half Fiorentina comeback condemned the Bianconeri to their first defeat of the season in this afternoon’s 4-2 reverse at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
Antonio Conte’s men appeared to be home and dry after Carlos Tevez and Paul Pogba had established a two-goal lead at the interval, only to be stung by a resounding Viola revival sparked by Giuseppe Rossi’s 66th minute penalty.
The frontman’s second, on 76 minutes, saw the Bianconeri throw caution to the wind as they went for all three points, but the hosts, backed by a vociferous home crowd, combined the pace of Juan Cuadrado on the counter with Rossi’s goalscoring prowess to record their first home victory over Juventus in 15 years.
For the trip to Florence, Conte made just two changes from the starting-line up that registered a 3-2 triumph over Milan a fortnight ago. Paul Pogba was given the nod over Arturo Vidal in midfield, while the injured Fabio Quagliarella was replaced by Fernando Llorente.
The Pamplona-born frontman, making his third Serie A start following a summer move from Atletico Bilbao, enjoyed a pair of promising exchanges with strike partner Carlos Tevez in the opening minutes as Juventus moved the ball around with high intensity and plenty of purpose.
With both sides registering even amounts of possession but lacking that element of precision required to find the breakthrough, a heated midfield battle ensued in which Alberto Aquilani and Andrea Barzagli were both shown yellow cards for overzealous challenges, while Tevez also entered Rizzoli’s notebook for dissent.
It was, in fact, the Argentine who produced the Bianconeri’s first effort on goal on 17 minutes, gathering at the ball at his feet before driving at the heart of the Viola rearguard, only to see his low strike comfortably collected by Neto.
His effort provided the stimulus for the visitors to move forward with increased fluidity. A neat piece of Paul Pogba skill on the byline enabled a Tevez at full stretch to crane a header towards goal, while Marchisio went closer moments later with a rasping drive that was clawed away from his near post by the Brazilian shotstopper.
With Juventus gaining momentum and the increased movement of Tevez and Llorente continuing to stretch the disciplined Viola backline, it seemed only a matter of time before a clear-cut opportunity would fall the way of the visitors.
And so it proved. On 36 minutes, Llorente’s pass on the turn found Tevez with his back to goal on the edge of the area, with a cynical Gonzalo Rodriguez challenge from behind sending the Argentine tumbling. No hesitation from Rizzoli. Penalty to Juventus. Having dusted himself off, Tevez stepped up to send Neto the wrong way for his fourth Serie A goal of the season.
Braced for an immediate Fiorentina backlash, Conte’s men regrouped and maintained their discipline before showing no mercy when an unexpected opportunity to establish a two-goal cushion arrived just three minutes later.
It appeared any danger had subsided when Cuadrado retrieved Paul Pogba’s searching pass, only for the Colombian winger to miscue his clearance back into the path of Pogba, who gratefully volleyed home into an open net to put the Bianconeri well and truly in the driving seat.
The half-time break failed to yield a change in approach as a dominant Juventus fashioned three opportunities to extend their advantage, with Tevez, Marchisio and Leonardo Bonucci all going close.
Also keen on a piece of the action was Andrea Pirlo, whose 30-yard direct free-kick required Neto’s intervention after initially clipping off the wall. Shortly afterwards it was Kwadwo Asamoah’s turn to go close, with the Ghanaian bursting on to Llorente’s layoff before directing his shot straight at the Fiorentina goalkeeper.
But the midfielder was soon left to rue a misjudged challenge in the penalty area on Rodriguez that saw Fiorentina given the opportunity to halve the deficit on 65 minutes. Rossi stuck to his task, dispatching a crisp spot-kick into the bottom corner for his sixth Serie A goal of the current campaign.
And the in-form striker once again showed his natural finishing instincts when he turned Pogba before blasting past Gigi Buffon from the edge of the area to draw the hosts level on 76 minutes.
Sensing the sands were shifting, Fiorentina continued to pour forward, using the pace of wingers Cuadrado and second-half substitute Joaquin to try and catch Conte’s men on the break.
This particular tactic bore fruit just two minutes later as, with bodies committed forward, Juventus were caught outnumbered at the back, enabling Joaquin to arrive late and steer his shot into the bottom corner to complete a remarkable turnaround.
With Arturo Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco introduced to the action as Juventus went in search of an equaliser, Cuadrado’s pace and movement again proved decisive as he wriggled into space before teeing up Rossi for his hat-trick on 80 minutes.
The Bianconeri, who remain third in the Serie A table, will look to shake off their first setback of the season by immediately turning their attentions to the Champions League, with Real Madrid up next on Wednesday night.