A late brace from Claudio Marchisio sent Juventus back alongside Udinese at the top of Serie A after they deservedly defeated champions AC Milan 2-0 at their atmospheric new arena on Sunday.
The Italy midfielder scored his first from a lucky ricochet with three minutes to go after playing a one-two with Mirko Vucinic, before making the game safe in stoppage-time, firing a 25m volley through goalkeeper Christian Abbiati’s legs.
“We deserved to score a long time before,” Juve coach Antonio Conte told Sky Sports TV. “Our intensity and approach were brilliant. We dominated possession, which was very important against a side like Milan, but the best thing that came from tonight was the way we played as a team.”
The once mighty Turin side, seventh the last two terms, are unbeaten under new boss Conte, with three wins and two draws.
“I’m not looking too far ahead,” the former Juve player said. “The only promise I will give is to make the team competitive because Juve deserve to be challenging among the best.”
Earlier on Sunday, Udinese beat Bologna 2-0, while 2-0 victories for Cagliari and Palermo over Lecce and AC Siena respectively helped the island teams join Napoli within a point of the leaders.
A Sebastian Giovinco brace helped Parma beat Genoa 3-1, SS Lazio grabbed the three points at Fiorentina thanks to a late Miloslav Klose header in a 2-1 win and Cesena were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Chievo Verona.
Encouraged by a noisy crowd, Juventus edged a fast-paced opening quarter, with former Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo coming closest with two trademark long-range swervers that Abbiati had to watch closely.
Juve’s Vucinic, playing as the lone striker in Conte’s 4-5-1 formation, came close to giving the home side the lead with two sublime pieces of skill just after the half-hour mark.
First, on 33 minutes, the Montenegrin had Abbiati scrambling to his left to save after turning sharply in the box and fizzing a right-foot shot toward the corner. Then, three minutes later, the former AS Roma man brought the Turin crowd to their feet as he killed the ball 20m out and bent a dipping shot against the underside of the Milan bar.
With the champions struggling to contain the inspired forward, Vucinic’s next trick was to shift the ball onto his favored right foot and fire a raking drive just wide of the upright as Juve pressed for the all-important first goal.
Gianluigi Buffon came to Juve’s rescue six minutes after the restart, stretching out his giant hand to turn aside Kevin-Prince Boateng’s angled volley as a more aggressive Milan attempted to up the pace.
Vucinic threatened again on 67 minutes after latching onto a misplaced Mark van Bommel back-pass, but the lightning fast Thiago Silva recovered to save the Dutchman’s blushes.
Juventus continued to dominate and Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal saw two long-range efforts flash wide as the pace slowed with a quarter of an hour to go.
On 80 minutes, Vucinic thought he had won it, but he could only hold his head in his hands as his shot from just outside the box bounced the wrong side of the post.
However, the Bianconeri’s luck changed dramatically in the final stages when Marchisio, running on to Vucinic’s pass, deflected Daniele Bonera’s clearance into the net on 87 minutes.
With seconds remaining, Milan’s Boateng, who had already been booked for dangerous play, was given his marching orders for catching Giorgio Chiellini with his hand, before Marchisio compounded the champions’ misery.
Goals from Mehdi Benatia and Antonio Di Natale sealed Udinese’s win.
Moroccan defender Benatia opened the scoring with a rare goal on 29 minutes, poking the ball home from a corner, before striker Di Natale settled the contest with a 72nd-minute penalty to give Udinese 11 points from five games.
Promoted Novara Calcio and Catania played out a six-goal thriller in the early kickoff, with Alejandro Gomez equalizing for the Sicilians in stoppage-time after second-half goals from Takayuki Morimoto and Jeda, had looked like giving the hosts the win.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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