Juve stutter on day of draws
Juventus maintained their unbeaten run this season, but fell behind AC Milan in the Serie A title race following a 1-1 draw at Bologna today. Juve failed to make the most of their game in hand on the champions and now trail Milan by two points with 12 matches left.
Juve have not lost in 26 league games this season, and 29 matches including the Coppa Italia, however, have drawn exactly half of those. Had Juve bagged all three points, they would have gone above Milan due to their better head-to-head record.
Once again the Turin giants proved lacking in attack as they failed to put Bologna under sustained pressure, although their makeshift centre-back pairing, including full-back Martin Caceres as both Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini were injured, enjoyed a largely quiet night.
That was until Leonardo Bonucci was dismissed six minutes from time for a second caution, leaving the side sparse on options should Barzagli or Chiellini not be back this weekend against Genoa. It wasn't such a quiet night for Juve coach Antonio Conte, either, who was sent to the stands in the second half for protesting.
Juve did little in the first half to demonstrate their title credentials with Jean-Francois Gillet a virtual spectator in the Bologna goal. His one nervous moment in the first half came when a deflected Andrea Pirlo free-kick wrong-footed him before the ball crept just past the far post.
Bologna took the lead with a goal of sumptuous quality as Gaston Ramirez's perfectly-weighted pass allowed Di Vaio to beat the offside trap and the veteran forward finished expertly first time past the onrushing Gianluigi Buffon. Juve's best chances thereafter saw Simone Pepe's shot blocked and Arturo Vidal lash wildly over the bar.
Having been so disciplined and organised in the first period, Bologna momentarily lost their shape 14 minutes into the second half, and they paid dearly. Pirlo sliced open the defence with an inch-perfect through ball that Vucinic met first time with a clever dink to beat Gillet.
That changed the momentum of the game and Juve started to dominate. Gillet saved a low header from Stephan Lichtsteiner at his near post while Marco Borriello prodded just wide from a Simone Pepe cross. But the late sending off ensured Juve were left holding on rather than pushing for a winner.
In other games, a Sebastian Giovinco penalty three minutes from time earned Parma a 2-2 draw at home to Fiorentina, while Cesena moved off the bottom following a goalless draw at home to Catania.