Serie A - Aquilani gives Juve nervy win

Sun, 16 Jan 15:58:00 2011

Alberto Aquilani scored a late winner as Juventus were made to work for a 2-1 home victory over Bari that arrested their worrying slump in Serie A form.

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A sublime free-kick from Alessandro Del Piero put the hosts ahead two minutes before half time before, against the run of play, Gergely Rudolf levelled for Bari.

Juve continued to pressurise the visitors and earned a deserved win when on-loan Liverpool midfielder Aquilani fizzed a long-range drive past Jean-Francois Gillet with 11 minutes remaining.

The Bianconeri had been in poor recent form, heavily losing their previous two Serie A matches, but a Coppa Italia win over Catania gave them renewed confidence and they largely controlled a lukewarm first half.

With Del Piero’s legs not what they were and his support coming from ineffectual teenage striker Nicoclo Giannetti it was perhaps inevitable that most of their threat would come from set pieces.

Indeed, veteran forward Del Piero swung one corner just under the bar, tipped away by Gillet, while a vicious free-kick from out wide landed inches over with the Belgian beaten.

It was from a more central position that Juve took the lead with Del Piero, who had wasted a similar effort minutes earlier, curling a delightful effort around the wall and into the top right corner.

The second half seemed to bode well for Juve, who continued to control the game as Bari showed little.

But they failed to really create anything and Bari punished them when, on a rare venture forward on 57 minutes, Edgar Alvarez zipped into the box from the left and cut the ball back for Rudolf, who drilled a low finish past Gianluigi Buffon.

Juve continued to control the pressure but flattered to deceive, with a half-chance put wide by Aquilani their only effort in a quarter-hour spell that saw Bari almost carve them open with their only two counter attacks.

Milos Krasic started to get in the game more, a succession of deliveries from the right wreaking havoc but not truly testing Gillet in the Bari goal, while Aquilani - who was growing into the game after a quiet start - had a couple of long-range efforts go wide.

Finally one of Aquilani’s efforts told when, after a Del Piero free-kick was headed clear, the former Roma midfielder smacked an unstoppable low drive past the dive of Gillet.

In the latter stages Juve continued to control possession but, aside from a penalty claim by Simone Pepe after he was barged by Nicola Belmonte, there was little to write home about as they hung on through five minutes injury time.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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