Juventus maintained its winning start to the new Serie A season by cruising to a 4-1 victory over Udinese at the Stadio Friuli on Sunday evening.
Arturo Vidal opened the scoring from the penalty spot 14 minutes after Zebrette goalkeeper Zeljko Brkic had been shown a straight red card for taking out Sebastian Giovinco.
Mirko Vucinic doubled the Bianconeri’s advantage just before the interval with a sublime finish before strike partner Giovinco tapped in to make it 3-0 early in the second half. The latter struck again on 71 minutes, rendering Andrea Lazzari's late strike purely academic.
Juventus looked somewhat sluggish in last weekend's win over Parma but it could have been ahead inside four minutes in Udine, with Andrea Pirlo prising open the home side’s defence with a predictably precise pass only for Stephan Lichsteiner to lob his teammate’s sublime through-ball over the bar.
However, the Bianconeri would not have to wait much longer to break the deadlock. Again, Pirlo was involved, the playmaker picking out Giovinco with another exquisite ball over the top. The diminutive attacker nodded the bouncing ball past the onrushing Brkic, whose momentum carried him into the former Parma man.
Referee Paolo Valeri quite correctly pointed to the spot but his decision to dismiss Brkic was harsh in the extreme given there was nothing malicious about his challenge, while there were also two covering Udinese defenders in attendance.
The injustice of the straight red was of little concern to Vidal, though, and the Chilean confidently despatched the ball past Brkic’s replacement, Daniele Padelli, to put the visitors a goal to the good.
Unsurprisingly, Juve dominated possession thereafter, but without doing very much. Indeed, a well-struck drive from Vucinic, which Padelli tipped around the posts, was the sum total of its efforts before the Bianconeri’s Montenegro international put daylight between the two sides on the stroke of half-time.
Former Udinese man Kwadwo Asamoah advanced down the left-hand side before pulling the ball across the face of the box. Pablo Armero really should have cut out the cross; he did not, and Vucinic pounced, controlling the ball before almost calmly bending it past a stationary Padelli.
Giovinco almost bettered that strike after jinking his way past a couple of players shortly after the restart but the Italy international fired over the bar. However, he made amends just moments later, slotting home the rebound after Padelli had spilled Claudio Marchisio’s strike from distance.
The 'Atomic Ant' then doubled his tally in emphatic style, firing home from just inside the area after being slipped in on goal by Pirlo. Udinese, who saw its hopes of Champions League football dashed by Braga in week, did manage a late consolation through Lazzari after he punished some sloppy defending from Andrea Barzagli but the spoils went to Juventus, who look set to go into the international break at the summit of the standings.
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