Serie A 2012: Pirlo free-kick seals Juventus win over Parma
Rome: Juventus shrugged off a penalty miss from Arturo Vidal to run out comfortable winners against Parma, goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Andrea Pirlo sealing a 2-0 win on Serie A`s opening weekend.
The Switzerland international turned in from Kwadwo Asamoah`s cross just after the interval, atoning for his Chilean team-mate who had seen his kick saved from the spot by Antonio Mirante. Three points were secured by Pirlo, whose low free-kick originally appeared to have been stopped before it was allowed on the advice of the fifth official.
Parma started brightly against the Serie A holders, looking to capitalise on the counterattack through pacey forwards Dorlan Pabon and Jonthan Biabiany and get behind an Old Lady backline missing stars like Martin Caceres, Simone Pepe and Lucio. An early break from Pabon ended in a speculative effort that was easily stopped by Marco Storari, but it was from the dead ball that the Colombian debutant would cause the hosts the most trouble.
It was his corner that found Marco Parolo completely unmarked, but the midfielder wasted a golden chance by heading over the crossbar. Juve legend Andrea Pirlo also showed off his skills on the deck, floating a dangerous free kick into the box that was glanced just over by Mirko Vucinic.
After a quiet start to proceedings, Juventus started to show their dominance as the half wore on. In his first official game, Kwadwo Asamoah was a dynamic force on the left hand side as the Turin side pushed forwards in numbers. Thirty-four minutes into the half, the home side should have taken the lead.
A rushed clearance from Gabriel Paletta hit Vucinic, leaving Stephan Lichtsteiner clean through on goal. The midfielder was clearly offside and should have been called back, but it was Parma goalkeeper Antonio Mirante who was sanctioned as he brought his opponent down in the box, conceding a contentious penalty and earning a yellow card. The former Juve academy player redeemed himself, however, saving from Vidal after the Chilean hit a tame effort from 12 yards.
Vidal once again was handed an excellent chance to hit the net barely five minutes into the second half. Asamoah drove a delicious low ball across the face of goal, but the Chilean had to deal with an acute angle and could only turn into the side netting at full stretch.
The breakthrough would not take much longer to arrive, however. More excellent work from Asamoah out wide led to another cross, and Lichtsteiner was in exactly the right place to calmly finish and put the hosts into a deserved lead. Parma were rattled, and captain Alessandro Lucarelli was extremely lucky to only receive a booking for an ugly challenge on Vidal that appeared to use the elbow.
A second for Juve came in bizarre fashion just minutes later. Mirante appeared to have saved Andrea Pirlo`s free kick right on the line. But referee Romeo disagreed and, after some consultation with the fifth official, ruled that the veteran midfielder had scored - to the delight of the home fans, who were in one voice praising the Italy international.
Having done little since the opening minutes of the encounter, going two down prompted Parma to show more urgency going forward. Biabiany gave Juve fans a big scare as he connected with substitute Sotiris Ninis` through ball, but Storari was equal to the challenge as he parried the shot behind. Juventus by and large continued to look comfortable, passing the ball around with authority as they looked to close out the remainder of the encounter.
Biabiany continued to be the focal point of Parma`s attack, and his teasing cross had to be dealt with by Barzagli as Belfodil bore down on goal. There was to be no way through for the visitors, however, as a fantastic double save at the death from Storari secured his clean sheet and Juventus stayed firm to record three points at the start of their quest to retain the 2011-12 title.
Juve`s next Serie A test comes on Sunday, when they will visit Udinese. Parma, meanwhile, host Chievo on the same day.