Juventus-Roma: John Arne Riise's Last-Minute Header Stuns 10-Man Juve
When it's going bad, it's really going bad.
Juventus not only looked to end one of the worst spells the club has ever seen against an in-form Roma squad, but also saw former manager Claudio Ranieri back to Turin for the first time since he was sacked with two games to go last season.
The effort was there, the end result wasn't as John Arne Riise's stoppage-time goal stunned the Stadio Olimpico crowd and gave his team the 2-1 win.
Ciro Ferrara again entered the match hanging by a thread, the Juve tactician had about half his usual starting lineup on the bench. David Trezeguet, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Mauro Camoranesi, Sebastian Giovinco, Christian Poulsen, and Martin Caceres were out injured while Felipe Melo missed due to suspension and Fabio Cannavaro was benched in favor of Nicola Legrottaglie.
But it was Roma who felt the injury bug just two minutes into the match when striker Luca Toni came up limping with an apparent calf injury. The big Italian striker tried to walk it off, but eventually made way for Francesco Totti, who himself was coming back from an injury. It was far earlier than the usual Roma captain was expected to play a part in the match but found himself entering the fun with only eight minutes gone by.
Juventus had the first couple of chances of the game but Alessandro Del Piero and Hasan Salihamidzic both saw their efforts go well over the goal. Roma's Mirko Vucinic also had a quality chance after he slipped past Fabio Grosso but only managed to hit the outside of the goal.
As the first half went on, Juve were clearly the more dangerous side as they were creating opportunity after opportunity. Claudio Marchisio slipped past his man and spun in a fantastic cross that missed Amauri's head by just inches.
Marchisio was again involved in a quality chance to score, this time on the end of a quality ball from Alessandro Del Piero. However, just as the young midfielder was about to control the ball he stumbled over his own feet and saw the ball go out for a goal kick.
Roma were clearly on their heals with not much of an answer. Another cross from the left, this time from Fabio Grosso, found the head of Amauri but the Brazilian sent it wide of the goal—something he has become all to familiar this season.
Just before the halftime whistle Del Piero appeared to have scored the opener after a fantastic effort to control the ball but was flahhed for offsides.
Six minutes into the second half, Del Piero got his goal—and a beautiful one at that. Diego's pass hit the foot of Roma defender Juan, and found Del Piero just inside the box. From an incredibly tight angle, Il Capitano blasted a left-footed volley and slipped it just inside the far post past Roma keeper Julio Sergro to give his team the 1-0 lead.
The goal seemed to wake Roma up and they were a much more dangerous side after going down by one. Rodrigo Taddei tried to slip past Fabio Grosso in the box but instead decided to go down as the Juve defender started to make contact with him.
It worked, a penalty was called and Totti stepped up to the spot take try to level the score. He did just that as he just barely saw his shot get past Gianluigi Buffon to even the score up at one.
And from then on, it was downhill for Juve. Del Piero was tackled in the box in what looked to be a much worse tackle than what was called on Grosso but the referee decided to let the play continue.
Antonio Candreva might have made his Juventus debut with 15 minutes to go, but just a few minutes later, the 22-year-old's presence would be overshadowed by another refereeing decision. As Riise sprung the offsides trap and was sent on a breakaway, Buffon came rushing and challenged the Roma defender.
Problem was, Super Gigi got all defender, no ball, and was shown a red card within seconds.
From then on, Juve had no choice to sit back and try to salvage a point. But it didn't work as in stoppages, it was again Riise having a huge part in the match as he was completely unmarked in the box and put away a David Pizarro cross past Buffon's replacement, Alexander Manninger, and shocking the Olimpico crowd one final time.
A fitting end to a game that actually saw Juve play well for once.
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