20.12.2015 15:03 - in: Match report S

      Juve in seventh heaven with win over Carpi

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      The Bianconeri battle back from behind to beat Carpi 3-2 on Sunday and secure a seventh successive Serie A victory

      Juventus closed the calendar year with a win away to Carpi on Sunday afternoon, as Mario Mandzukic netted twice and Paul Pogba added a third in between Marco Borriello’s early opener and Leonardo Bonucci’s late own-goal.

      Carpi fans might have been dreaming of a famous victory of their own after only a quarter of hour when former Bianconero striker Borriello put his team in front, while also going down in history as the first ever goalscorer in this fixture.

      But it would take the visitors only three minutes to draw themselves level, Mandzukic showing all of his predatory qualities to turn quickly in the box and fire home the equaliser.

      By half-time the Bianconeri’s first-half domination of possession (72 per cent) and number of shots (nine) paid off, as the Croatian forward headed home Patrice Evra’s cross to bring up his maiden brace for the club and ninth goal in all competitions.

      Shortly after the interval, Pogba turned in Claudio Marchisio’s fine crossfield pass to all but wrap up the victory, despite the Biancorossi entertaining late hopes of salvaging a point after Bonucci turned Luca Marrone’s ball into the net.

      Juve’s seventh successive Serie A success sees them rise to second place in the table ahead of the weekend’s other fixtures and sets them up nicely for when the league season resumes on 6 January against Hellas Verona.

      Carpi manager Fabrizio Castori had said that his players would need to play a very tactically shrewd game in order to take away a positive result from their maiden outing against Juventus and it was clear from the off that the hosts were prepared to defend in numbers in a bid to restrict the Bianconeri to shots from distance.

      In the opening quarter of an hour, the Biancorossi appeared to be sticking closely to the 61-year-old coach’s instructions, the only notable opportunity coming in the form of Paulo Dybala’s fine effort from outside the box that fizzed just over the crossbar.

      The visitors were largely neat and tidy with their passing, but on 15 minutes they were punished ruthlessly for a rare lapse of concentration, when Juan Cuadrado lost possession and Borriello pounced on the loose ball, jinked past Bonucci and struck low past Gigi Buffon to give his side what had seemed an unlikely lead.

      Allegri’s men, however, would not be trailing for long as they scored with their very next attack just three minutes later.

      Cuadrado’s cross into the middle caught Carpi’s defenders all at sea and the most alert men of all inside the box, as has so often been the case of late, was Mandzukic. Taking the ball out of the air, the in-form forward twisted and drilled powerfully past home keeper Vid Belec to register his fifth league goal of the season.

      The Slovenian stopper would find his afternoon getting steadily busier over the remainder of the first period, ushering Marchisio’s long-ranger beyond the upright before getting his gloves to Sami Khedira’s fierce, yet centrally struck effort after 27 minutes.

      By the 41st minute, Juventus would be rewarded for their sustained pressure in and around the Biancorossi box. Evra, enjoying a lively afternoon down the left flank, scampered forwards and provided a delightful delivery for Mandzukic to nod home his second of the afternoon.

      The Bianconeri have always won whenever the Croatian scores and that trend showed no signs of ending at the Stadio Alberto Braglia when Pogba raced onto Marchisio’s raking pass before knocking the ball deftly beyond Belec. This was the Frenchman’s fourth strike of the season in all competitions and his second in just four days following Wednesday’s memorable free-kick in the Coppa Italia against Torino.

      Second-half substitute Daniele Rugani very nearly got in on the act after turning in from a corner, but the Serie A debutant’s goal was chalked off for offside.

      Down the other end of the field, Juventus’ rearguard was largely in control of proceedings, but Bonucci’s miscued clearance from Marrone’s cross found its way into the net to set up a grandstand finale in which Lorenzo Lollo might have grabbed an improbable equaliser deep into injury time.

      But Allegri’s charges emerged unscathed from this late scare to see out yet another crucial victory that keeps up the pressure on the sides at the Serie A summit and sets up an intriguing second half to the campaign after a well-earned Christmas break.


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