Alessandro Del Piero rolled back the years with a peach of a goal to hand Juventus a potentially decisive 2-1 victory over Lazio on Wednesday night – a result which sends them back to the top of the Serie A table.
Simone Pepe had given the hosts a first half lead before Stefano Mauri equalised with Lazio’s only meaningful attack of the game. But veteran Del Piero proved the hero with a trademark free-kick in the final 15 minutes to move Juve two points clear of AC Milan in the race for the Scudetto.
The first half was about as one-sided as 45 minutes of football can be but Lazio somehow sneaked into the break on level terms. The visitors’ goalkeeper Federico Marchetti was the star of the show making a string of vital saves.
Fabio Quagliarella should have opened the scoring early but he failed to turn home Giorgio Chiellini’s cross from six yards. Marchetti was then deceived by a bounce but Quagliarella’s shot hit him in the face and rebounded to safety.
Juve were in total control and Arturo Vidal played Pepe in behind the backline but Marchetti saved. The pressure told on the half hour mark as Andrea Pirlo’s delightful chip sent Pepe clear and with his back to goal he controlled the ball on his chest and then sent an acrobatic overhead bicycle kick past the goalkeeper.
Vidal tried his luck from 60 yards, spotting Marchetti off his line, but the goalkeeper scrambled to save. Modibo Diakite then dived in to block what seemed a certain goal for Mirko Vucinic before Marchetti stuck out his left hand to stop Quagliarella’s deviated shot.
But then on the stroke of half-time, Lazio took a quick free-kick and Mauri headed home Lionel Scaloni’s pinpoint cross.
Juve were straight back on the attack after the break but although Vucinic beat Marchetti, his shot fizzed past the post. Chiellini had a glorious chance when set up by Stephan Lichsteiner but the big defender didn’t have quick enough feet to finish.
But eight minutes from time Del Piero wrong-footed Marchetti, who seemed unsighted, with a free-kick from 25 yards out to send the home fans into ecstasy.
In other games, Inter boosted their European qualification hopes with a 2-1 win over Siena to maintain coach Andrea Stramaccioni’s unbeaten start as boss. Diego Milito scored a brace to move up to third in the Serie A scoring charts following Gaetano D’Agostino’s opener.
Inter are now behind Napoli in the final Europa League spot only on head-to-head record after Walter Mazzarri’s men fell 3-1 at home to Atalanta.