Hellas Verona became the first team to beat Juventus in Serie A since Sassuolo over six months ago with a well-merited 2-1 victory over the reigning Italian champions on Sunday evening at the Stadio Bentegodi.
A drab first half only came to life in the 38th minute when Luca Toni, making his last appearance of an illustrious 20-year-long career, struck the post. Just five minutes later however, the 38-year-old former Juve forward would make sure of marking the occasion with a goal after converting a penalty awarded for a foul by Alex Sandro on Eros Pisano.
Whilst enjoying the better of possession, the Bianconeri were finding it tough to contain Verona’s counter-attacks and went 2-0 down in such fashion, Federico Viviani capping off the move with a fine strike into the top corner.
Simone Zaza struck the post and had a goal ruled out for offside before Paulo Dybala swept home the game’s second spot-kick, as Massimiliano Allegri’s men failed to add to their current points tally of 88 with one match remaining at home to Sampdoria next Saturday.
Tonight’s penultimate league fixture of the 2015/16 season took a long time to get going and did not see either side produce a shot on target until Federico Viviani’s long-range drive in the 28th minute.
The Gialloblu midfielder’s effort, however, was held comfortably by Neto, who was making just his second Serie A appearance between the sticks this term.
The hosts, in truth, were threatening marginally more in the final third, with Urby Emanuelsson and Luca Siligardi particularly lively down the left flank. The latter went on to set up Toni with a precise centre in the 38th minute and the veteran forward struck the post on the turn with Neto beaten.
By this point, the match was beginning to open up and Juve might well have taken a 41st-minute lead when Dybala raced on to Zaza’s flick on but the Argentine dragged his effort whiskers wide of Pierluigi Gollini’s upright.
Just moments later, Verona got the ball back up the other end and won a penalty when Alex Sandro was adjudged to have fouled Pisano inside the box. Toni duly stood up and kept his cool from the spot with a classy dink down the middle.
Trailing at the break, the Bianconeri appeared to have raised the tempo at the start of the second period, as they pressed higher up the pitch and Daniele Rugani warmed Gollini’s gloves from distance.
By the 55th minute, however, they found themselves two goals down when a quick counter-attack saw Viviani finish with aplomb after Artur Ionita’s cross had somehow worked its way past the visitors’ backline to reach the 24-year-old midfielder.
Eager to reduce the deficit as quickly as possible, Allegri’s charges responded with Zaza hitting the post after being played through by Kwadwo Asamoah.
Their forward forays, however, left them vulnerable to the counter and Neto was forced into a smart save from Ionita at his near post following another rapid breakaway move involving the Gialloblu winger.
Down the other end, Gollini had to be on his toes to beat away Dybala’s free-kick, which took a menacing deflection en route to the top corner and in the 71st minute Zaza had a goal correctly disallowed for offside, as Juve demonstrated signs of improvement with little to show for it.
A frenetic end to the encounter would see Alex Sandro dismissed for a second yellow card and, moments later, a penalty awarded to Juventus for Filip Helander’s trip on Zaza.
Dybala made no mistake from 11 metres out, registering his 21st goal in all competitions this term and equalling Carlos Tevez’s total during his first campaign in the black and white (2013/14).
Allegri and company will now look to end the campaign on a high at home to Vincenzo Montella’s Sampdoria next Saturday before heading into the Coppa Italia final against Milan on 21 May.