Serie A - Juve edge out Genoa
Juventus boosted their outside chance of securing Champions League football next season with a 3-2 victory over Genoa at the Stadio Olimpico.
The home side showed great determination to recover after twice falling behind to plucky opponents in a thrilling encounter before substitute Luca Toni struck an 83rd minute winner.
Genoa twice took the lead courtesy of a Leonardo Bonucci own goal and Antonio Floro Flores strike but were pegged back by equalising goals from Simone Pepe and Alessandro Matri before Toni stepped off the bench to snatch the points from his former club.
The Bianconeri remain seventh in the Serie A league table but crucially were able to capitalise on fourth placed Udinese’s defeat to Roma on Saturday to close the gap to just five points with six games to play.
Another three points and a third successive league victory may prove crucial as Juventus look to make a decisive final push for the right to take on Europe’s elite in 2011/12.
With anything less than three points seemingly a failure for Juventus, they made the worst possible start to the game with Genoa gifted the early advantage after just seven minutes.
Luca Antonelli looked to be all out of ideas as he reached the edge of the Juventus penalty area and it was his hopeful ball inside that cannoned off the retreating Bonucci who could only watch on in horror as the ball flew inside the near post past a motionless Marco Storari.
It took the home side a while to recover from a bizarre and unfortunate setback but when they did, Genoa found themselves forced on to the back foot for the remainder of the first half.
Despite their dominance, Juve failed to carve out a clear goalscoring opportunity of note until the latter stages of the half when Bonucci had the chance to register at the other end.
But the big defender’s header was kept out by a wonderful reaction save from Eduardo who was called into action for the first time.
In a dizzying 15 minute spell, the home side forced six corner kicks out of a resilient Genoa defence but failed to capitalise on each and every occasion as the visitors successfully rode out the first half storm.
For all Juve’s fruitless first half toiling, it took just five second half minutes before they successfully secured the long overdue restoration of parity that sparked a second half goal rush.
Having finally hauled their way back on to level terms, Juve were soon forced to repeat the trick all over again as Genoa took the lead for a second time.
With both sides already indebted to lady luck, Floro Flores’s stunning goal owed everything to pure technique as the Genoa frontman controlled and shot past Storari all in one movement from 18 yards after being picked out by Antonelli.
But on this occasion Juventus wasted no time in drawing level as substitute Toni made his first touch of the game count to tee up strike partner Matri to lash the ball home from 12 yards.
And Toni proved his afternoon’s work was far from complete with a mere assist as he then went one better to fire Juve ahead for the first time in the game.
With a typically strong piece of forward play the former Genoa striker shrugged off the challenge of Dario Dainelli before lofting the ball over the advancing Eduardo to break the hearts of his former employers.