zondag 5 februari 2012

Serie A

Juventus 0-0 Siena
League leaders dominant but fail to break down resilient visitors
Gianluca Pegolo was in inspired form for the visitors to deny the Old Lady their thirteenth win of the season and earn his side a valuable point in the process

Alessandro Matri - Juventus (Getty Images)

Juventus laboured and could only muster a 0-0 draw at Juventus Arena against a rock-solid Siena side.

It was a stuttering performance from the Old Lady in what was a scrappy game. Juve took 30 minutes to warm up but Gianluca Pegolo was in top form as he denied them on multiple occasions to earn the visitors a valuable and unexpected point.

Juventus were far too sloppy on the ball and they struggled to break down a resilient Siena in the opening stages. Chances were limited in an extremely disjointed game and, though Juve threatened down the wings, the movement of the strikers in the box was poor and they rarely tested Pegolo in the first 45 minutes.

The Siena keeper’s first save came in the 16th minute when he flapped at a swerving effort from distance by Arturo Vidal, but managed to clear the ball away. Siena then took the ball straight up the other end and after Emanuele Calaio found space by cutting inside of Giorgio Chiellini, he screwed his shot into the side netting.

Juventus were becoming ever more dangerous as the half drew on. In the 34th minute Andrea Pirlo spotted Stephan Lichtsteiner’s darting run in the box and clipped a beautiful diagonal ball to the right-back. He helped it on with his first touch but Pegolo made a fantastic save, getting his fingers to it and tipping it over.

Antonio Conte could not have been happy with his side’s first half display. Mirko Vucinic looked extremely rusty and Alessandro Matri was hardly involved in the game at all. Siena sought a goal on the break but were not committing enough players to stretch the hosts.

Siena continued to have an answer for everything that Juve threw at them in the second half, their close pressing and tackling inspired, but they were allowing Pirlo too much time and space.

Pegolo produced a fantastic save on the hour mark when he clawed away Pirlo’s beautifully placed free kick that was destined for the top corner. Just two minutes later he produced another remarkable stop when he got a hand to Matri’s header to keep the scores level.

With 15 minutes remaining Siena enjoyed a decent spell of pressure after a quick break saw Pablo Gonzalez brought down close to the area by Andrea Barzagli. From the resultant free kick Buffon cleared the ball away and the visitors failed to get an effort on target.

The stadium became a cauldron of frustration as the home side still struggled to find a way past their opposition. They had a penalty claim denied in the final moments when Giorgio Chiellini’s cross struck the arm of Simone Vergassola but the referee saw nothing wrong.

Siena almost won it at the death when Buffon spilled Reginaldo’s effort, and Gazzi stormed in to finish it off but he blazed his effort high and wide from the corner of the six-yard box.

Emanuele Giaccherini spurned a great opening in stoppage time to score the winner but his cross-goal effort had too much height and sailed just over Pegolo's bar.

The result means Juve cling to top spot while Siena widen the gap between themselves and the drop zone to four points.

Roma 4-0 Inter
Borini nets clinical brace as Claudio Ranieri endures miserable return to former club
A rampant and pacy home side tore apart the visitors on Ranieri's return to his former club following stellar performances from Fabio Borini and Erik Lamela

Roma celebrating (Getty Images)

The first half was dominated by the home side, who were simply irrepressible for the initial half hour, with the notable exception of a superb solo run from Diego Milito that nearly created a goal out of nothing the opening exchanges.

But Roma’s immense pressure paid with just 13 minutes gone, as Juan rose high to head home Francesco Totti’s corner kick and earn the lead, following two saves from Julio Cesar to keep Erik Lamela and Fernando Gago from opening the scoring.

Inter began to get back into the match after a rough 30 minutes and nearly had a chance of their own but Yuto Nagatomo skied a cross from six yards out.

On the 41st minute mark, however, the home side doubled their lead. Miralem Pjanic added another assist to take his tally to eight for the season as he slipped Borini in towards goal. The youngster forced Walter Samuel into a slide tackle before coolly slotting the ball past Julio Cesar to send Roma into the break with a two-goal advantage.

Despite Ranieri throwing on Andrea Poli for Giampaolo Pazzini to shore up the midfield, Roma continued the second half much as they ended the first. Within five minutes, Borini added a second to his tally and a third on the night after receiving a long ball from Juan. Kept onside by Maicon, the youngster held off Lucio and slotted in past Julio Cesar. 

Inter tried to press forward when possible but Luis Enrique's men continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides.

The home side added a fourth to their tally with just a minute left of regulation time to go, when substitute and debutant Giammario Piscitella found Bojan unmarked in the box. The on-loan Barcelona youngster managed to find space between three defenders to find the back of the net.

The result sees sixth-placed Roma cut the gap to Inter to a mere two points with an extra game in hand, to be played on Tuesday against Catania, while the visitors recent revival looks well and truly over.


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