Juventus chalked up their seventh successive victory with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph over Cesena. The Bianconeri dominated at the Dino Manuzzi but had to wait until the 80th minute to make their pressure count. Borriello provided the finishing touch, steering home from close range to send the travelling support into raptures. Antonio Conte made two changes to the side which ran out 4-0 winners over Roma on Sunday. Matri spearheaded the attack in place of the suspended Quagliarella, while Caceres came in for Lichtsteiner on the right flank. Juventus started confidently and were presented with an early opportunity to take the lead after Moras handled in the area. Pirlo stepped up but saw his spot kick cannon agonisingly back off the post.
The early setback failed to change the Bianconeri’s attitude as they continued to flood forward at every available opportunity. But Cesena, who went into the encounter on the back of a five-game unbeaten run, defied their lowly league standing by defending admirably throughout. A feisty game almost came to life midway through the first half when Vucinic reacted first to head Pirlo’s corner narrowly over the crossbar. And Pirlo was again at the heart of the action ten minutes later, crossing for De Ceglie who saw his close-range effort kept out by Antonioli. The restart brought even more pressure on the Seahorses’ goal. Matri went desperately close to establishing the lead when his strike wriggled past Antonioli, only for the goalkeeper to recover and scramble the ball away from the line.
As the minutes ticked by, the hosts, buoyed on by a passionate home crowd, began to believe a result could be on the cards. Matri and Marchisio went close with half-chances, while Chiellini was just a whisker away from turning De Ceglie’s glancing header into the back of the net. Conte took no chances, injecting fresh impetus into the team’s attack with the introductions of Giaccherini, Del Piero and Borriello at the expense of Caceres, De Ceglie and Matri. The captain’s impact was almost instant, but found Antonioli equal to his precise 30-yard free-kick. Yet with just ten minutes remaining, the visitors’ pressure finally paid off when Vucinic headed down for Borriello in the area. The on-loan striker burst onto the loose ball, crashing a left-footed shot into the bottom corner for his first goal in black and white. Further chances to secure all three points fell to Giaccherini, Del Piero and Vucinic before Guida’s whistle brought the combative encounter to an end. The Bianconeri’s seventh consecutive success keeps them three points clear of Milan at the top of Serie A, taking Conte’s men one step closer to a dream that could soon become a reality.
CESENA 0-1 JUVENTUS
GOALS: Borriello 80
CESENA Antonioli; Benalouane, Moras, Rodriguez, Ceccarelli, Dokovic (Rossi 77); Santana, Parolo, Colucci (Guana 32); Del Nero (Arrigoni 65), Rennella, Substitutes not used: Ravaglia, Comotto, Malonga, Lolli. Manager: Beretta
JUVENTUS Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Caceres (Giaccherini 69), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, De Ceglie (Del Piero 74); Matri (Borriello 74), Vucinic Substitutes not used: Storari, Lichtsteiner, Marrone, Padoin. Manager: Conte
REFEREE: Guida ASSISTANTS: Petrella, De Luca FOURTH OFFICIAL: Bergonzi BOOKINGS: Colucci 8, Vidal 33, Rennella 43, Pirlo 57, Matri 62, Guana 64