The twenty second match day in Serie A saw the defending champions Juventus matched up away to Chievo at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi. Sitting second to the leaders by just one point, Juve managed to keep pace with Napoli at the top of the table by taking all three points from the Veronese side.
The sides at kickoff
Juventus 11: Szcezesny; Asamoah, Barzagli, Benatia, De Sciglio, Sturaro, Pjanic, Khedira, Costa, Mandzukic, Higuain.
Chievo 11: Sorrentino; Cacciatore, Dainelli, Tomovic, Bani, Bastien, Radovanovic, Hetemaj, Jaroszynski, Birsa, Pucciarelli.
First half, first red card
In usual Juventus fashion, they started the game quickly and got on the front foot creating a handful of half chances, mostly through Kwadwo Asamoah making darting runs forward from his left back position. After surviving some early pressure Chievo were able to establish a small foothold in the game and even had a period of sustained pressure for about 10 minutes in the opening quarter of an hour. After the short period of being under pressure, Juventus responded and in the 28th minute Higuain was fouled on the edge of the box allowing Miralem Pjanic a free kick effort which was blocked by the Chievo wall.
One of the bright spots for Chievo was their youngster Samuel Bastien who showed no fear and plenty of promise battling with Asamoah and on one or two occasions coming out on top. That was until the 37th minute when he received his second yellow card for pulling Asamoah back when the Juventus defender was trying to start a counter attack. Bastien showed his inexperience and effectively ended the game as a contest with his sending off. Chievo took a much more defensive shape and were able to make it to half-time with the scores level at zero.
Second half, second red
The red cards did not stop there for Chievo. Fabrizio Cacciatore was given a straight red in the 61st minute for making a handcuffed gesture towards the crowd when he was not allowed to return to the field after being injured. This gesture means that he believed the game was rigged and the ref seeing this as an unsportsmanlike act delivered the red. It was now nine men versus the Juve eleven for the remaining half an hour of the game. Allegri quickly made a substitution bringing on Federico Bernardeschi for Stefano Sturaro, showing his intent to put Chievo under as much pressure as possible. Eventually the dam would break in the 67th minute, when Bernardeschi set Sami Khedira up for a first-time finish that he blasted past the Chievo keeper.
The next twenty minutes saw wave after wave of Juventus pressure on what was left of the Chievo team. The flying donkeys tried their best with a 3-5 set up to keep the deficit at 1-0 but eventually the Juve pressure proved to be too much. Douglas Costa delivered a pinpoint cross from the left that Gonzalo Higuain headed into the Chievo net to assure all three points and end his goal drought at six games.
Higuain warning for future opponents
Pjanic and Costa were men of the match for Juventus. Pjanic served as the fulcrum of the side, dictating the pace and play for his side from start to finish and Costa used his dribbling and speed to constantly beat his defender and create opportunities for his teammates. Higuain seems to be the biggest winner on the night, having ended his goal drought. Atalanta and Tottenham will be weary of such a prolific goal scorer getting back amongst the goals. Juventus will need him to carry on scoring as they face these clubs in the Coppa Italia and Champions League respectively.
Scoring: (Juventus) Sami Khedira 67’, (Juventus) Gonzalo Higuain 88’