Juve in seventh heaven with patchy win at Carpi
Mario Mandzukic hit his first Juventus brace and Paul Pogba added a third as the Serie A champions ended the year with a patchy 3-2 win over struggling Carpi on Sunday.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men travelled to Modena, Carpi’s temporary home, looking to make it seven wins from their past seven league outings as they continue their comeback from a disastrous start to the season.
And after seeing Carpi threaten to claim a share of the spoils after Leonardo Bonucci turned into his own net at the death, Allegri was a relieved man.
We played well, until the last, disastrous five minutes of the game,” Allegri told Sky Sport.
They had a very good start but we did well to come back into the game until the closing minutes.
It was important to win today but we knew it wouldn’t be easy to defeat Carpi after their Cup elimination of Fiorentina.”
Juventus were stunned on the quarter hour when Marco Borriello turned Bonucci in the Juventus area to beat Gianluigi Buffon down low.
Mandzukic’s brace gave the Turin giants a 2-1 lead at the break and the impressive Pogba allowed the champions to breathe easy with a well-taken third five minutes into the second half.
But Juve were lucky to escape dropping precious points when Lorenzo Lollo fluffed a late chance in front of goal after Bonucci had reduced arrears with a shock own goal two minutes into added-on time, prompting a fit of rage from Allegri on the touchlines.
– Up to second –
Juve held on for a 10th win of the campaign that moved the champions up to second place at three points behind leaders Inter Milan ahead of the remaining Serie A fixtures on Sunday.
Inter, who host Lazio in Sunday’s late game, will finish the year top of the pile because they held a four-point lead on both Fiorentina and Napoli prior to the weekend fixtures.
Fiorentina can reclaim second spot with a win at home to Chievo while Napoli will jump back above Juve with a win at Atalanta.
Carpi and Juventus had never met in Serie A and Fabrizio Castori’s men were handed an early warning when Paulo Dybala’s first-timer from 20 yards edged just over Vid Belec’s crossbar.
But the hosts, who stunned Fiorentina in the Italian Cup in midweek, earned the perfect start at a sun-drenched Alberto Braglia stadium when Isaac Cofie found Borriello with a searching ball down the right wing.
In a one-on-one with Bonucci, Borriello turned the Italy defender before firing just inside Buffon’s near post for a 15th-minute lead.
The goal stung Juve into action and Mandzukic pulled the visitors level three minutes later when, after Dybala’s follow-up from Juan Cuadrado’s angled drive was parried, the Croatian swivelled to fire past Belec from eight yards.
Juventus were into their stride and when Patrice Evra chased a loose ball down the left flank, the Frenchman had time and space to deliver a floating cross that Mandzukic rose to meet and head past Belec on 41 minutes.
A great through-ball from Claudio Marchisio found Pogba on the run five minutes after the interval and the Frenchman controlled well to fire past Belec for his third goal of the campaign.
Juve looked to be cruising but disaster struck in injury time when Bonucci stuck his leg out unnecessarily following a Carpi cross into the area to deflect the ball past Buffon.
Moments later, second-half substitute Jerry Mbakogu found Lollo in space in front of the Juve goal but the midfielder completely fluffed his chance, prompting an irate Allegri to remove his jacket in violent fashion as he remonstrated with his players.