Serie A - Juve return to top with Cesena win

Sun, 04 Dec 15:53:00 2011

Goals from Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal put Juventus back on top of Serie A as they defeated ten-man Cesena 2-0 at the Juventus Stadium.

Marchisio - Juventus 2011 - 0

The second-from-bottom Seahorses kept the undefeated Turin giants out until the 72nd minute, when Marchisio turned well before unleashing a fierce low shot beyond Francesco Antononi in goal.

And things went from bad to worse for the goalkeeper ten minutes later when he was shown a straight red card, despite appearing to beat substitute Emanuele Giaccherini to Pepe's low cross from the right.

Vidal coolly despatched the game-clincher from 12 yards past Guillermo Rodriguez, who took the jersey from Antonoli with no further substitutes remaining to head coach Daniele Arrigoni.

As widely expected, the in-form hosts wasted little time taking control of large portions of the match, and Alessandro Matri fired over the crossbar twice in quick succession around seven minutes in.

Whenever Cesena would claim possession, a sloppy or timid pass attempt would see them surrender it soon after, and as a result Juve saw their stats for time on the ball lurk around the three-quarters mark.

But the Old Lady nonetheless cut a frustrated figure in the first half as not only chances failed to get beyond a rigid back line, but several decisions seemed to go against them.

None were more baffling to the home side than when Stephan Lichtsteiner went down in the box courtesy of a trip by Guillermo Rodriguez, who was striving to compensate for allowing the right-back to dispossess him in a dangerous area.

But the referee ruled that the initial contact came just outside the area, and the ensuing free-kick came to nothing following a sustained series of protests from Juve players.

The Cesena back line was severely tested by a series of shots and dangerous deliveries into their danger zone shortly after the half-hour mark, while Mirko Vucinic was denied twice in the dying embers of the half, first by goalkeeper Francesco Antonoli and then by the side netting.

The hosts looked to turn up the heat straight after the restart, and only an impressive double save from Antonoli kept out successive strikes from Matri and Vucinic.

The duo were soon replaced by Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Del Piero, though the latter lasted just eight minutes after attempting an ill-advised low header to win a 50-50 ball and catching the boot of Marco Rossi in the process.

Cesena came their closest to springing the upset on 66 courtesy of a lightning-fast break from a defensive free-kick, ending with Martinho having a decent effort saved by skipper Gianluigi Buffon.

But it was Del Piero's unplanned replacement Giaccherini who would finally swing the game the way of the Bianconeri, first as an instrumental part of a neat passing move which saw the favourites finally break the deadlock.

Vidal was the man with the final pass to Marchisio, who turned first time just inside the area and tucked away a strong drive to the raptures of the home fans.

Simone Pepe really should have doubled the lead with 13 minutes remaining only to mis-hit an opportunity he would be expected to bury from close range, but the man only signed from Cesena this past summer would play a pivotal role in breaking his former employer's hearts nonetheless.

It looked beyond any doubt as if Antonoli had done superbly to reach a dangerous low cross before the midfielder, but in the process of making the save, knocked the ball off the chest of his opponent thus convincing the officials that Giaccherini was in possession when he was tripped by the prone keeper.

With Antonoli the last man, he was dismissed from play and Vidal gave the hosts the cushion they craved.

Rodriguez, taking over goalkeeping duties with no substitutions remaining, impressed in the final minutes particularly with a great stop to deny Quagliarella, who was also denied Juve's third later on by his own team-mate Lichtsteiner.

And Cesena almost pulled a goal back when a corner came in low at the second time of asking, only for sub forward Eder to scuff his shot with the goal at his mercy.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

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