|Finally! I have done it! How beautiful is this first goal?
Juventus have sailed into the Coppa Italia semi-finals courtesy of a dominant 3-0 victory over Roma. The encounter will live long in the memories of the Bianconeri faithful after Alessandro Del Piero hit his first goal at Juventus Stadium. The captain’s sensational strike came between Giaccherini’s early opener and Kjaer’s own goal right at the death. Antonio Conte promised to shuffle his pack for the cup tie and the manager kept to his word. In came Storari, Bonucci, Marrone, Giaccherini, Estigarribia, Del Piero and new arrival Borriello for his first start in black and white. Quagliarella took his place among the substitutes having recovered from a fractured cheekbone sustained in Lecce. The Bianconeri took to the field with instant purpose, clearly spurred on by the electric atmosphere created by the home crowd.
And the fans did not have to wait long for their support to be repaid. With just six minutes on the clock, Giaccherini picked up on a stray forward pass which had evaded the Roma midfield. The winger raced through one-one-one and kept his composure to find the bottom corner for his second goal in as many games. As Juventus swarmed forward in search of a second, Del Piero almost tested Stekelenburg in the 19th minute, but dragged his left-footed shot wide after being teed up on the edge of the area. The next chance that fell to the captain, however, was one that would be remembered forever. Picking the ball up in a seemingly harmless position outside the area, Del Piero lifted his head and curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner which left Stekelenburg rooted to the spot. The crowd erupted, the captain raced off in celebration, and Conte’s men had the two-goal cushion they had been craving. Yet again, the hunger instilled under Conte’s stewardship was more than evident. The Bianconeri refused to rest on their comfortable advantage and pinned the Giallorossi rearguard back with an exhibition of relentless attacking football. Estigarribia was next to try his luck, but thrashed a left-footed shot into the side netting. Roma edged slightly back into the encounter following the restart, enjoying more consistent spells of possession and creating danger in and around the penalty area.
However, Juve’s rearguard stood firm and restricted their visitors to speculative attempts from distance. The turning point came midway through the second half when Lamela tangled with Chiellini in an off the ball incident. After tempers briefly threatened to boil over, Banti restored order and showed the Argentinean a straight red card. Conte opted to grant Del Piero a standing ovation, with his replacement Quagliarella instantly involved in proceedings. Matri squared and the substitute poked an instinctive strike towards goal from close range, only to see his attempt cannon agonisingly back off the upright. A minute later, Quagliarella turned provider, twisting and turning on the edge of the area before playing the ball through to Estigarribia. The winger let fly with a vicious left-footed attempt that whistled just past the far post. But Juventus eventually got the third goal their offensive display merited. With the game stretched and ten-man Roma tiring, Pirlo’s vision picked out Quagliarella’s forward run. The frontman cut the ball back into the middle only to see Kjaer arrive first and turn the ball into his own net under pressure from Matri. Banti’s final whistle brought down the curtains on a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Juventus fans will remember this occasion for quite some time to come, while Conte’s men march on with Udinese now firmly in their sights.
JUVENTUS 3-0 ROMA
GOALS: Giaccherini 6, Del Piero 30, Kjaer (o.g) 90
JUVENTUS Storari; Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Marrone, Pirlo, Giaccherini (Krasic 88), Estigarribia; Borriello (Matri 63), Del Piero. Substitutes not used: Manninger, De Ceglie, Pazienza, Vidal. Manager: Conte
ROMA Stekelenburg; Taddei, Heinze, Kjaer, Josè Angel; Simplicio (Greco 67), Gago, Pjanic; Totti (Perrotta 72); Bojan (Borini 58), Lamela. Substitutes not used: Lobont, Rosi, Juan, Viviani. Manager: Luis Enrique.
REFEREE: Banti ASSISTANTS: Tonolini, Maggiani FOURTH OFFICIAL: Bergonzi BOOKINGS: Estigarribia 9, Pjanic 39, Simplicio 66, Totti 72, Krasic 89 SENT OFF: Lamela 68