by Danny Penza | Bleacherreport
If Juventus wanted to give themselves any chance of getting back into the top four, a win against Genoa was the only option.
With optimism about getting into next season’s Champions League fading and a team that always seems to give Juve fits coming to town, it was reality check time to see if the Old Lady could actually get back into the race for Europe.
That win came, albeit controversially, through captain Alessandro Del Piero and an impressive second half showing. Il Capitano bagged a double after Amauri scored his sides opener as Juve defeated 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico.
It wasn’t all beautiful for Juventus as Genoa got off to the better start. Marco Rossi had the first legitimate chance of the match just nine minutes in when he thumped a right-footed shot off the upright.
Rossi didn’t have to wait long to get his goal as he opened the scoring seven minutes later. Robert Acquafresca sprung the offsides trap and dropped a pass back to Rossi just outside the six-yard box. Even though Rossi didn’t get everything on it, he beat Gianluigi Buffon at the near post as the Juve keeper couldn’t change direction in time.
As the first half progressed, Juve continued to be anything but impressive. Momo Sissoko, Diego, and Antonio Candreva all tried long-range efforts but none of them troubled Genoa keeper Marco Amelia.
Then came the biggest surprise of them all.
After Martin Caceres fought off a tackle in the right corner, he sent in a beautiful cross that found Amauri in the center of the penalty area. The Brazilian striker, who has been in awful form all season long and hasn’t scored since the end of October, rose above his man and headed Caceres’ cross into the back of the net.
Juve took the momentum they gained from Amauri’s goal into the second half. From the start, they were attacking early and often. Juventus earned a corner just seconds in but it didn’t amount to anything dangerous. Caceres then tested Amelia from outside the box but the Italian international wasn’t troubled by it.
The Bianconeri continued to put pressure on the Genoa defense and took the lead at 60 minutes in spectacular fashion. Del Piero and Diego exchanged passes outside of the box as the Brazilian playmaker sent the Juve captain in with a beautiful backheel flick. Del Piero had no trouble with Diego’s pass and drilled his shot past Amelia for the 2-1 lead.
That’s what people had been waiting for from Del Piero and Diego.
However, the joy quickly turned to heartbreak.
Almost as shocking as Amauri scoring was Buffon committing an error that lead to Genoa’s equalizer. Buffon, who has some of the best hands in the business, coughed up Giandomenico Mesto’s cross as he tried to smother the ball and Rossi was there to clean up the mess for his second goal of the game.
Juve came right back. Claudio Marchisio, who came on for Candreva two minutes after Genoa leveled the score, marked his return from injury in fine fashion as he was all over the midfield.
Marchisio’s ball through to Del Piero lead to the eventual winner.
Del Piero ran on to Marchisio’s ball and was taken down by Genoa defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Del Piero, like so many times before, cooly stepped up to the spot and finished it to put Juve ahead 3-2.
The problem was, it might not have been a penalty. Del Piero was certainly taken down by Papastathopoulos, there’s no denying that. But some replays showed that Del Piero might not have been tripped up in the box.
Still, Juve had the 3-2 advantage.
Genoa had one last chance in the closing minutes as Mesto again sent a cross into the box. Unlike the last time, nobody, regardless of what jersey they were wearing, got a touch on the ball as it went completely untouched in Buffon’s box.
And Buffon’s reactions said it all—a huge sigh of relief as the final whistle blew.
For now, Juve will take the much needed three points. And like many times before, it will now be seen if they can build on what they did.