Juventus 1-1 Fiorentina: Spoils Shared In Physical Encounter In Turin
The Bianconeri were held to a draw by their Tuscan rivals in difficult conditions at the Stadio Olimpico.
Juventus played out an entertaining draw with Fiorentinaas Cesare Prandelli presided over his 200th game as Viola coach. Juan Manuel Vargas put the visitors into a surprise lead early on, but Amauri scored the equaliser in the 19th minute.
Zdenek Grygera, Fabio Cannavaro and Mohamed Sissoko were all in the starting line up for the Bianconeri, while Gianluigi Buffon was fit enough to take his place in goal. Dario Dainelli returned to the visitors’ starting XI in place of Per Kroldrup, while Alberto Gilardino started up front as Adrian Mutu was demoted to the bench.
Sissoko was booked for diving after less than a minute by referee Rizzoli as Juventus started at a high tempo, but it was the visitors who took the lead in the fifth minute.
Stevan Jovetic broke down the left wing for the Viola and after running into some gaping space, he fed a perfect ball for Juan Manuel Vargas, who slipped the ball past Buffon to give Fiorentina an early lead.
The hosts were momentarily stunned and attempted to get back in the game with some efforts from long range. Worryingly for Ciro Ferrara, the hosts’ defence was being opened up with alarming ease and Jovetic shot wide in the 10th minute following a simple long ball.
Juventus should have equalised in the 15th minute as Vincenzo Iaquinta shrugged off Massimo Gobbi to collect a cross, but he fired a woeful shot straight at Sebastien Frey from six yards out.
The Viola were sitting very deep and it almost cost them moments later, but Iaquinta could not score from a few yard away. It was only a temporary respite, as the equaliser came in the 19th minute. Iaquinta collected the ball in the penalty area and squared it forAmauri to sidefoot into an empty net.
Fiorentina were reeling as their midfield was being completely overrun, while the Bianconeri continued to pour forward. Marco Marchionni was replaced after only 24 minutes by Mario Santana due to injury, while the hosts’ physical approach was taking its toll on Gobbi.
Amazingly the visitors had the ball in the net for a second time in the 33rd minute. Vargas’ free kick from the right hand side went through everyone into the far corner, but the referee had already blown his whistle for a foul by Dainelli.
Cesare Prandelli’s side were fighting fire with fire as they began to get stuck in, with Dainelli putting his body on the line for his side. The physicality was somewhat lacking in midfield, but Cristiano Zanetti was starting to exert his influence on the game for the visitors.
Some poor defending by Grygera allowed Vargas to unleash a left foot shot in first half stoppage time, but Buffon was equal to the effort.
The second half began as intensely as the first, and Frey was called into action to save Sissoko’s 20-yard shot with his feet in the 48th minute. The Bianconeri were flooding into the Fiorentina penalty area and Sissoko should have done better with a free header from 12 yards out moments later.
Immediately afterwards, Vargas broke down the left flank but rather than cross for Alberto Gilardino, he chose to wait for Jovetic to appear on the edge of the area. Unfortunately for the Viola, the Montenegrin shot wide.
Juventus were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, pouring forward whenever possible, but they were denied by some resolute defending and some wasteful finishing from the likes of Amauri and Felipe Melo.
With 20 minutes to go, both coaches saw the need for changes. Mutu replaced Jovetic for the visitors, while Ferrara brought Mauro Camoranesi on for Sissoko. Shortly after, Vargas was substituted for Manuel Pasqual.
Both sides continued to throw bodies forward in search of a potentially decisive goal, while David Trezeguet was belatedly thrown into the fray.
With four minutes to go, the hitherto anonymous Gilardino received the ball in the penalty area but delayed his shot and missed the target when he should have done better.
The visitors were ending as the stronger of the two sides, but the intense pace of the game had taken its toll as both teams began to tire. Three minutes of injury time came and went, and the points were shared at the end of a gripping contest.