Winning matches like this evening against Lazio requires a great deal of character as well as a slice of good fortune, because Lazio played superbly and didn’t deserve to lose. However, when blessed with a squad like Massimiliano Allegri has, it’s easier to shift fate in your favour. Nevertheless, you still need to make good use of the players at your disposal and the Bianconeri coach is a master at this: his decision to send on Federico Bernardeschi and Joao Cancelo when Lazio were leading turned the game around. The Italy international provided a creative spark, while the Portuguese scored and then won the penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo converted for a massive three points. At times it was difficult to imagine Juve would end up victorious in this encounter, given the inspired display from the kick-off by the home side.
THIS JUVE SIDE NEVER GIVES UP!
Lazio started the game on the front foot and pinned the Bianconeri back in their half by pressing and winning back possession high up the pitch before rapidly exchanging passes. Juve were more cautious to begin with and managed to constrain their opponents. Wojciech Szczesny was required to come off his line to claim the ball on a couple of occasions and made his first proper save after 20 minutes when Joaquin Correa drilled a low shot from outside the area. Harder saves followed to repel first Luis Alberto’s effort after Emre Can had carelessly lost the ball and then Marco Parolo’s fierce close-ranged shot.
Five minutes from half-time, Massimiliano Allegri was forced into an early change, replacing Leonardo Bonucci, who had injured his right ankle, with Giorgio Chiellini. Lazio continued to press in the remaining minutes before the break and Ciro Immobile even had Szczesny beaten with a lob, which Daniele Rugani managed to clear on the line. When it came, the half-time whistle was greeted with a perceptible sense of relief.
JUVE MAKE LIFE DIFFICULT FOR THEMSELVES
The pace of the Biancocelesti attacks were causing more problems at the start of the second half, with Luis Alberto striking narrowly wide of the post. Juve, however, were playing with more purpose and their attacks carried more of a threat, but then from a Lazio corner Emre Can managed to head into his own net, complicating Allegri’s game plan.
CANCELO ENTERS AND EQUALISES
The coach made an immediate change, substituting Blaise Matuidi for Federico Bernardeschi, but even still Lazio came close to doubling their advantage through Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Twenty minutes from the final whistle, Joao Cancelo came on in place of Douglas Costa and took up position on the right wing. The two substitutes were involved in the move that led to the equaliser in the 74th minute. Bernardeschi embarked on an unstoppable run down the left wing and sent over an inviting cross for Paulo Dybala. The Argentine struck it first time and drew a save from Thomas Strakosha, but Cancelo pounced on the bound and found the bottom corner for 1-1.
CR7 PENALTY WINS IT FOR JUVE
The match was set up for a cracking ending, as the goal breathed new life into Juve but Lazio refused to back down. The players fought for every ball and while both sides lacked a bit of calmness, it was a tremendously competitive spectacle. For the Bianconeri, the moment of ecstasy came a minute from the end: Ronaldo found Bernardeschi whose cross would have found Cancelo had the Portuguese not been upended by Senad Lulic. Referee Marco Guida pointed to the spot and Ronaldo smashed it past Strakosha to beat an excellent Lazio side and increase our lead at the top of the table to 11 points over Napoli.
LAZIO 1-2 JUVENTUS (HT: 0-0)
SCORERS: Emre Can (og) 59, Cancelo 74, Ronaldo (p) 89.
Strakosha; Bastos (Neto, 90), Radu, Wallace; Parolo, Milinkovic-Savic, Leiva, Luis Alberto (Berisha, 81), Lulic; Correa; Immobile (Caicedo, 82).
Subs not used: Proto, Guerrieri, Durmisi, Jorge Silva, Murgia, Cataldi, Badelj.
Coach: S. Inzaghi
Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci (Chiellini, 41), Rugani, Alex Sandro; Emre Can, Bentancur, Matuidi (Bernardeschi, 61); Douglas Costa (Cancelo, 70), Dybala, Ronaldo.
Subs not used: Perin, Pinsoglio, Spinazzola, Fagioli, Kean.
ASSISTANTS: Carbone, Di Liberatore.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Abbattista.
VAR OFFICIALS: Aureliano, Del Giovane.
BOOKED: Emre Can 24, Leiva 50, Matuidi 5, De Sciglio 70, Rugani 73, Chiellini 80, Milinkovic-Savic 80.