[Video] Juventus 2 – 0 Empoli [HighLights]
Mario Mandzukic – with the aid of the crossbar and Lukasz Skorupski – and Alex Sandro eventually broke Empoli down for a 2-0 Juventus victory.
This was their 30th consecutive Serie A home win, an on-going all-time record, which put more pressure on Roma as they visit Inter tomorrow night.
The Tuscans have never won away to Juventus, emerging with a goalless draw in November 1998 and 11 competitive defeats. The Bianconeri rested several stars ahead of Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final with Napoli, but welcomed back Leonardo Bonucci after he was dropped for a touchline row with Max Allegri. Empoli missed Levan Mchedlidze for this trip.
Gonzalo Higuain controlled a Mario Mandzukic knock-down with his left boot and prodded the finish with the outside of his left, but there wasn’t enough power on it to beat Lukasz Skorupski from six yards.
Juan Cuadrado’s deflected shot turned into an assist for Mandzukic, sliding in to turn wide at the far post, while Omar El Kaddouri horribly wasted an Empoli counter-attack.
Giuseppe Bellusci got a decisive block when Mandzukic knocked down a cross for Stefano Sturaro in the six yard box.
Mandzukic wasted a golden opportunity when he ran on to Higuain’s inspired pass, rolled into his path, but the Croatian hesitated one-on-one with Skorupski and allowed defenders to get back, crowding him out.
Another splendid Higuain cross was turned wide by Mandzukic at full stretch sliding in at the back post, while Miralem Pjanic’s free kick was straight into the wall.
It remained surprisingly even after the restart, as El Kaddouri and Jose Mauri had dangerous counters, but Mandzukic finally made good on the wasted chances of the first half.
Cuadrado whipped in a great cross for Mandzukic’s towering header and Skorupski did all he could to fingertip it on to the underside of the crossbar, but it went over the line. Therefore it was awarded as an own goal.
There were no doubts over the second, as Alex Sandro gathered with his back to goal, held off Vincent Laurini and spun round to nutmeg the defender with a snooker-shot into the far bottom corner.
Paulo Dybala came off the bench and had the ball in the back of the net immediately, but only after Higuain had been flagged offside on a Cuadrado cross.
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