He doesn’t score all that often these days, but when he does he tends to find the back of the net in big games.
And in style.
After just three minutes of Saturday’s Derby d’Italia, Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella accepted the ball on the swivel, turned himself toward goal and arched a delightful effort that beat Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic just inside the near post.
Like the season’s first match between these national rivals back in November, the Bianconeri had the early lead. But where they ended up losing 3-1 to the Nerazzurri in Turin—a defeat that stopped their historic unbeaten run at 49 matches—on this day they were not to be found wanting. And Quagliarella had a lot to do with that.
Having already scored three times during the Champions League group stage and once in the round of 16, the 30-year-old’s modest haul of 11 goals this season also included important, point-winning goals against Chievo, Bologna and Genoa coming into Saturday’s derby.
Now a tally in the country’s biggest match can be added to the list, and in the nine games in which Quagliarella has scored Juventus have never lost and have only drawn twice.
The target of a long, heavy pass from Arturo Vidal, Quagliarella chased down the ball and, just before it crossed the line for a goal-kick, played it back to Alessandro Matri, who had only to tap it in to restore the guests’ lead.
Only four minutes earlier Rodrigo Palacio had equalized for Inter, latching onto Antonio Cassano’s layoff after the Italy striker was set up expertly by Mateo Kovacic.
But Quagliarella wasn’t done there.
Moments after setting up Matri for Juve’s second, he drew a foul from Andrea Ranocchia that resulted in the Inter defender being substituted shortly thereafter.
All in all it was a performance worthy of man-of-the-match recognition, and when Juventus manager Antonio Conte is mulling is team to face Bayern Munich next week he’ll almost certainly think hard about Quagliarella.
He just seems made for the stage.
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