A devastating second half combination of clinical counter attacking and lethal finishing enabled Juventus to achieve their sixth Italian Super Cup crown in tonight’s resounding 4-0 success over Lazio at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
Early first-half substitute Paul Pogba provided the catalyst for the breakthrough on 23 minutes, swinging a balanced opening in the Bianconeri’s favour with a left-footed strike on the turn.
Antonio Conte’s words at the break clearly had the desired effect as any fears of a Biancocelesti comeback were swiftly allayed by three goals in the space of four second half minutes.
Giorgio Chiellini made a rare foray into enemy territory to double the advantage from close range, Stephan Lichtsteiner netted against his former side after breaking through the centre of midfield, while Carlos Tevez crowned his competitive debut with a poacher’s finish following good work from Pogba.
Despite the one-way traffic that characterised the vast majority of second period, both sides carved out instant opportunities to gain the upper hand in an electric start to proceedings in the capital.
Lazio were first to test Gigi Buffon, with the goalkeeper proving equal to Cristian Ledesma’s shot from the edge of the area, while Mirko Vucinic will perhaps feel he should have found the target when presented with a chance to pull the trigger following a mix-up in the Biancocelesti rearguard.
As the flurry of early attempts on goal gave way to a combative midfield battle, Claudio Marchisio was the first to feel the heat of the opposition’s added bite, departing the field of play on 20 minutes after taking a knock from Stefan Radu.
His replacement, Pogba, wasted little time in announcing his arrival on the scene, pouncing on a loose ball in the area to lash a telling left-footed strike past Federico Marchetti following a well-worked Andrea Pirlo free-kick routine that had caught Vladimir Petovic’s charges napping.
Forced to chase an early deficit, Lazio, who last tasted Super Cup success in 2009, raised the tempo and only a magnificent one-handed save from a full stretch Buffon prevented Radu from levelling matters with a fizzing strike from 25 yards.
Down the other end, Conte’s new-look strikeforce of Tevez and Vucinic showed signs of forging a promising partnership, with strong running and several neat exchanges threatening to unsettle the Biancocelesti back four.
But for all the good work of the strikers, it was an unsual source that produced the Bianconeri’s second goal of the evening. A lightning counter-attack enabled Lichtsteiner to race unopposed down the right flank, and the Swiss full-back duly squared for Chiellini to slot past Marchetti on 53 minutes.
Stung by Juventus’ devastating start to the second half, Lazio appeared to have little answer to wave after wave of attack, and soon found themselves picking the ball out of the net two minutes later, with provider Lichtsteiner turning goalscorer after connecting with Vucinic’s knock-down.
Conte’s men had their tails up and were in no mood to take any prisoners, cutting through the opposition’s midfield with ruthless precision. And their refusal to settle for a three-goal cushion was fully rewarded when Tevez dispatched a crisp finish into the bottom corner to put the game well and truly beyond Lazio’s reach.
Seeking to reduce a heavy deficit, Petkovic’s men went in search of a consolation and were only prevented from limiting the damage by the heroics of Buffon, who produced a solid save to prolong Miroslav Klose’s goalless run against the Bianconeri.
Gianluca Rocchi’s final whistle sparked scenes of jubilation as Antonio Conte joined his players on the pitch to celebrate his fourth trophy since returning to take charge of Juventus in May 2011.
With one title successfully defended, the Bianconeri will now aim to build on this evening’s result when they begin their Scudetto campaign away at Sampdoria in six days’ time.
JUVENTUS 4-0 LAZIO
GOALS: Pogba 23, Chiellini 53, Lichtsteiner 54, Tevez 57
Buffon; Barzagli (Caceres 76), Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Ogbonna 83), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio (Pogba 20), Asamoah; Tevez, Vucinic.
Substitutes not used: Storari, De Ceglie, Isla, Marrone, Padoin, Giovinco, Llorente, Matri, Quagliarella.
Marchetti; Cavanda, Biava, Dias, Radu (Ederson 57); Biglia, Ledesma (Floccari 57); Candreva, Hernanes (Onazi 70), Lulic; Klose.
Substitutes not used: Bizzarri, Strakosha, Ciani, Cana, Novaretti, Gonzalez, Crecco, Kozak, Rozzi.
ASSISTANTS: Di Liberatore, Cariolato
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Mazzoleni
BOOKINGS: Hernanes 31, Barzagli 43, Dias 59