Juventus:Kwadwo Asamoah 37,Arturo Erasmo Vidal 73(r),Own Goal(Christian Maggio) 97,Mirko Vučinić 102
Napoli:Edinson Cavani 27,Goran Pandev 44
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Juventus came twice from behind to beat Napoli 4-2 and lift the Italian Super Cup in Beijing . Any remaining demons from May’s Coppa Italia final defeat were firmly laid to rest at the Bird’s Nest as the Bianconeri showed their resilience to overcome Walter Mazzarri’s determined outfit.
Asamoah’s wonder strike and Vidal’s confidently taken spot-kick responded to Cavani’s breakaway opener and Pandev’s delicate finish. But the Bianconeri’s task was made more straightforward after Pandev and Zuniga saw red in the second half, with Vucinic adding to Maggio’s own goal in extra-time to cap a fully deserved success.
There were no great surprises as far as the starting line-up was concerned, with Antonio Conte opting to deploy the same 3-5-2 system first trialled against the Partenopei back in November 2011. Making their first official starts since completing summer moves were Lucio, Asamoah and Giovinco, while Matri was preferred to partner the Azzurri international up front.
Those who predicted an evenly contested encounter were proved right as both sides toiled to enjoy any significant spells of possession in the opening fifteen minutes, despite Juve looking the more likely to inflict damage.
And the Bianconeri sparked into life when Giovinco darted into the box after evading the despairing lunge of Britos. The striker squared for Matri, but last season’s top scorer, under pressure from the Partenopei rearguard, was unable to dispatch a shot on goal.
The next chance fell to midfield maestro Pirlo who, following Inler’s crude challenge on Vidal, curled a trademark free-kick straight into the Napoli wall. Asamoah went close soon afterwards, evading a series of challenges with his nifty footwork before skewing a right-footed attempt wide of the far post.
The greasy surface, product of a heavy downpour before kick-off, appeared to play into the hands of Juventus, who were able to play their slick passing game to good effect. Yet they were soon made to rue the conditions as an innocuous defensive slip sent Cavani darting through on goal. Buffon stood firm, performing a minor miracle prevent the Uruguayan frontman from rounding him at the first attempt, but was unable to block the follow-up, which flashed past him into the net.
As the Bianconeri attempted to rouse an immediate response, Buffon was again called into action when Napoli threatened to strike on the counter for the second time in quick succession, clutching Pandev’s firmly hit attempt at his near post.
It took something special to bring Juventus on level terms, a moment of magic that announced Asamoah’s arrival in style. There appeared to be little danger when Vidal swung in a cross from the right-hand side, only for the Ghanaian midfielder to execute a spectacular first-time volley that flew past De Sanctis in the Napoli goal on 37 minutes.
Yet there was to be one further twist in an intriguing first-half when Pandev capitalised on a Bonucci error to cut inwards from the left flank. The Macedonian forward closed in on the target before clipping a delicate finish over the head of Buffon to send the Partenopei into the break with a 2-1 advantage.
Carrera opted to take instant action by introducing Vucinic in place of Matri at the interval. And the change almost reaped immediate rewards, with the Montenegrin gathering a pass from Pirlo before rattling the woodwork just four minutes into the second half.
Pirlo went close moments later, drawing a sprawling save from De Sanctis from his well-struck 30-yard free-kick. And Vucinic continued to remain a thorn in the Napoli rearguard, capitalising on a stray ball to round the goalkeeper, only to see his attempt scrambled clear.
Juventus continued to press for an equaliser and found a way back into the encounter when Fernandez upended Vucinic in the penalty area on 72 minutes. Vidal stepped up to send De Sanctiis the wrong way from the spot, paving the way for an epic finale.
It seemed as if the pendulum had begun to swing in the Bianconeri’s favour, even more so when Pandev was given his marching orders for dissent with five minutes remaining. And worse was to come for Mazzarri’s men as one foul too many also saw Zuniga sent for an early bath seconds before the start of extra-time.
With a clear numerical supremacy, Juventus probed for the lead and brought further cheer to the hoards of black and white supporters when Maggio diverted Pirlo’s cross past his own goalkeeper after 97 minutes. Vucinic then secured a two-goal cushion five minutes later, collecting Marchisio’s excellent pass to steer the ball comfortably past De Sanctis.
Despite having further opportunities to increase their lead, Juventus played out the remaining fifteen minutes before Mazzoleni’s final whistle brought the end to an absorbing 120 minutes of football.
JUVENTUS 4-2 NAPOLI
GOALS: Cavani 27, Asamoah 37, Pandev 44, Vidal 73, Maggio (o.g) 97, Vucinic 102
JUVENTUS: Buffon, Lucio, Bonucci, Barzagli, Lichtsteiner (Padoin 89), Vidal, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah, Matri (Vucinic 46), Giovinco (Giaccherini 116).
Substitutes not used: Storari, De Ceglie, Marrone, Quagliarella.
NAPOLI: De Sanctis, Campagnaro, P.Cannavaro (Fernandez 62), Britos, Maggio, Behrami, Inler (Dossena 106), Hamsik (Gargano 68), Zuniga, Pandev, Cavani.
Substitutes not used: Rosati, Aronica, Vargas, Insigne.
ASSISTANTS: Faverani and Stefani
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Bergonzi
BOOKINGS: Britos 32, Cannavaro 52, Behrami 53, Cavani 64, Zuniga 76, Lichtsteiner 76, Pandev 85, Giovinco 92, Zuniga 93, Bonucci 112
SENT OFF: Pandev 85, Zuniga 93