Genoa 3-2 Juventus: Bianconeri Say Good-Bye to Scudetto, Genoa Say Hello to Champions League (Serie A Matchday 31)

Genoa defender Thiago Motta reacts after scoring during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Genoa and Juventus in Genoa, northern Italy, Saturday April 11, 2009. (AP PHOTO)

In Italy we have a saying that goes “the sadness of one makes the happiness of the other”. One being Juventus and the other being Genoa in this case.

For all extents and purposes, the Bianconeri’s Scudetto dream is over. I know I already said that last week but that was my own personal prediction. This week’s loss, which effectively pushes Inter’s lead to +10, pretty much makes the demise of Ranieri’s team official, limiting the usefulness of next week’s Juve vs. Inter clash only to bragging rights.

From a neutral point of view, Saturday’s evening match was an action-packed, entertaining affair, features which have started to become common with Gian Piero Gasperini’s side. It’s still fairly early to be talking about “Champions League football” for Genoa, but surely the Rossoblu and their president Enrico Preziosi must be fancying their chances by now: if the team continues to play like they are currently doing, they are sure to feature prominently in next season’s European scene.

Serie A 2008-09 - Genoa vs. Juventus

Serie A 2008-09 - Day 31 - Genoa 3-2 Juventus

Genoa started the stronger of the two sides, with the Rossoblu showing no sign of missing injured Diego Milito, which is perhaps the biggest compliment that can be paid to manager Gasperini. Their attacking trio, as unusual as it was effective (especially on the wings), immediately pushed the Bianconeri to the ropes, in particular Molinaro and Zebina who had to deal with Sculli and Palladino, two ex-Juve members in their own right. The latter former Bianconero was precisely the one coming closest to breaking the deadlock, with only a timely on-the-line clearance by Legrottaglie stopping Genoa from taking the lead. The home team continued to dominate the first part of the match as Juventus seemed happy to break on the counter, but still struggling to feed the ball through to Iaquinta and Del Piero.

Football players of Juventus (R) and Genoa observe a minute of silence to pay tribute to the April 6 earthquake's victims prior their serie A football match, at Luigi Ferraris stadium on April 9, 2009 in Genova. The banner displayed in the grandstand reads "Close to people from Abruzzo region", where the earthquake killed more than 250 people. (GETTY IMAGES)

Iaquinta’s disallowed goal in minute 9, after a good counter-attack initiated by Poulsen, was the very first incident of a long line of dubious refereeing decisions. It was later followed by Thiago Motta’s non-penalty on a Legrottaglie handball, as well as Nedved non-red cards first for receiving a foul from Bocchetti, then for committing for a dangerous elbow-jump on Mesto, later forced off the field. Interesting to note the mere sight of blood had cost Pazzini an early shower two weeks ago, in the match against Ireland.

Before he was substituted however, Mesto had contribued to Genoa’s lead goal a few minutes earlier: dribbling in front of the Juve box, getting fouled on the edge, but managing to slip the ball to Thiago Motta for the first-post low finish. 1-0 Genoa. The only snag? Referee Gianluca Rocchi had already blown the whistle before the ball entered the net, but decided nonetheless to apply the advantage rule. Wrong call.

Genoa's Thiago Motta (C) vies with Juventus' Czech Pavel Nedved during their serie A football match between Genoa and Juventus, at Luigi Ferraris stadium on April 11, 2009 in Genova. (GETTY IMAGES)

Almost to make up for it, Juventus were given a chance to equalize a few minutes later. A missed pass gifted Del Piero with a good counter, neutralized inside the box with a clean on-the-ball tackle by Matteo Ferrari. Rocchi however did not hesitate to award the penalty, which the same Del Piero coolly dispatched for his tenth goal of the season. 1-1, and one bad reffing decision a side.

Before the half ended however, Genoa were once again back in the lead: an inspired Thiago Motta claimed his second goal of the game with a fine headed corner-kick, anticipating Zebina and casting further doubts on the concentration of the Juve defense. 2-1 Genoa, which in terms of ball possession and chances created could be considered a deserved lead.

The visitors upped the tempo in the second half, Del Piero inspiring his troops to move further up the pitch. In the first of a number of Juve chances the Bianconeri captain did well to find Iaquinta, who served the ball to Nedved and allowed the Czech star to unleash a shot: good on-the-line clearance by Biava. Then Del Piero again saw a cross-shot saved by Rubinho, failing to see Iaquinta alone in the box. The pressure was on, but Genoa immediately replied on the other end forcing Buffon to miraculous save on Sculli, then seeing Bocchetti’s effort hitting the base of the post and bouncing clear. Where Juve got their legs really cut from under them was with Camoranesi’s red-card dismissal, after a dangerous foul on Giuseppe Sculli.

Juventus' Vincenzo Iaquinta reacts after scoring the equalizer to bring the score to 2-2, during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Genoa and Juventus in Genoa, northern Italy, Saturday April 11, 2009. Genoa won 3-2. (AP PHOTO)

With one man down, Ranieri opted to change his team: on came Grygera and Marchionni for Legrottaglie and Zebina. Juve reverting to a three-man defence and increasing their offensive solutions to create the equalizer, which eventually arrived through in-form-man-of-the-moment, Vincenzo Iaquinta: well served by Nedved, the Azzurri international scooped the ball over Rubinho for the 2-2 tally.

Juve’s heart & “never-give-up” mentality seemed once again to have bailed the Bianconeri out of some poor playing. Raffaele Palladino had other plans however. Deemed Juve surplus by at the end of last season, the Genoa winger got himself at the end of a well-orchestrated Rossi-inspired counter-attack, getting his foot on the winning goal and refusing to celebrate against his old team-mates. Commendable, but making no difference on the damage dealt: 3-2 Genoa, and final nail in Juve’s Scudetto coffin.

Genoa's Raffaele Palladino celebrates after scoring against Juventus during their serie A football match between Genoa and Juventus, at Luigi Ferraris stadium on April 11, 2009 in Genova. Genoa won 3-2. (GETTY IMAGES)


 Genoa C.F.C.
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 29’, 45’ Thiago Motta (G), 44’ pen. Del Piero (J), 84’ Iaquinta (J), 88’ Palladino (G).
GENOA (3-4-3): Rubinho – Biava, Ferrari, Bocchetti – Mesto (43′ M.Rossi), Thiago Motta, Juric, Criscito – Sculli (79’ Papastathopoulos), Jankovic (79’ Olivera), Palladino. (bench: Lamanna, Modesto, Polli, Vanden Borre). Coach: Gasperini.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina (73’ Grygera), Legrottaglie (73’ Marchionni), Chiellini, Molinaro – Camoranesi, Marchisio, Poulsen, Nedved – Iaquinta, Del Piero. (bench: Chimenti, Mellberg, Tiago, Giovinco, Trezeguet). Coach: Ranieri.


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Posted in Genoa, Juventus, Serie A |

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