Leonardo Bonucci’s stunning strike late in the second half gave Juventus a 3-2 win over AS Roma in the top of the table clash which had two red cards, seven yellows and three penalties.
A Scudetto battle royal between two teams having five wins from five had no shortage of drama but it was referee Gianluca Rocci who will make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Carlos Tevez converted two first half penalties which were both results of highly contentious decisions from the referee. In between these two penalties, Roma had taken a 2-1 lead thanks to a spot-kick from captain Francesco Totti and a 44th minute strike from Argentine Juan Manuel Iturbe. The second half was pretty lackluster as both the teams looked tired after their midweek Champions League games. However, a moment of brilliance from Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci settled the contest in the 85th minute. Both teams had a man sent off after that as Alvaro Morata and Kostas Manolas were given marching orders as tempers flared.
Roma manager Rudi Garcia who was sent off in the first half was visibly outraged in the post-match conference. He told Sky Italia,”It’s not important to talk about the reason why I was sent off. I prefer to talk about the game, as there were so many incidents, but we lost through our own fault as we didn’t score two great chances and conceded on two set plays”
“It’s just a shame that in Turin they make the penalty area slightly larger… I really think it was possible to do better, not just in terms of the result, but the performance. Both these teams can play much better football.”
“It was a little too tense, but usually the referee controls that. The bad thing for us is that Morata’s very dangerous tackle saw Manolas react. He should not try to be a vigilante.”
“In the first half we lost the ball too many times. This was a physical match and we had to be ready for that. I still think we did enough to win, looking at the chances with Gervinho and especially Pjanic.”
“If we hadn’t conceded two minutes into injury time at the break, then that might’ve changed the whole game. We had prepared to press harder in the second half and use more of our technique, which we did.”
“On the referee I can say it is time we help the referees. Phantom goals and knowing whether a foul is inside or outside the box can be decided using technology and it’s time we help the officials.”
“Technology would be able to give you measurements to the centimetre, in or out, as we are in the 21st Century now. When you saw Maicon from above in the stands, you could tell the ball was outside the box.At the end, we lost. That’s all that matters. I know it is down to the referee’s discretion, but the problem is that all three of them went the same way.”
Roma captain Francesco Totti launched an astonishing attack on Juventus after the game. Speaking to Sky Italia he said,”It’s a huge shame after a good performance.We came to Turin to play our game, but you saw what happened and that affected the match.
“For years the same old incidents keep happening. I don’t know if we were beaten by referees, but we certainly were not beaten by Juventus tonight.Yes, we are angry, but also aware we are a great team and must lift our heads straight away.This was a match we really cared about, but Juventus ought to have their own League, as by hook or by crook they always win.”
“Are we back to the same doubts? I am not the only one saying this, as these are things everyone in Italy should discuss. With Juventus when there is any doubt whatsoever, it’s always a penalty. I have to stop now, as if I keep talking then I’ll get suspended.”
Roma defender Douglas Maicon also had his say on the game, “We played a great match, we didn’t deserve this result. In my opinion I was outside the box on my hand ball, I don’t believe it was a penalty kick. Juventus is a great team, referees sometimes make mistakes. Juventus has the same team as last season, we changed a lot.”
Roma director Walter Sabatini had some words regarding the controversial contest, “It’s scientific that neither of two penalties for Juve should’ve been given, just as Bonucci’s beautiful goal had Vidal offside.” Sabatini told Sky Sport Italia.”There was a mutation in space and time! All joking aside, we accept the defeat and the quality of Juventus, but all the goals were clearly invalid, despite Rocchi being a good referee.I cannot resolve the problems of football. We accept the defeat, but it is evident there’s going to be talk about the incidents, as they are so clear…”
“We bring home the result, but the two penalties didn’t exist and the winner should’ve been disallowed. I understand the media will be fired up hearing me as director of sport at Roma saying all three goals should’ve been revoked. I admired Bonucci’s great volley, as I am a man of football.We knew this was going to be a game played not so much on a technical level, as there was so much tension. We could’ve and should’ve done better, so we will work to improve our approach to this type of game.”
Juventus manager Massimilliano Allegri was happy with the three points although he claimed that the result does not make his side superior in comparison to the Giallorossi.”It was a very intense game and both teams had some good moves.” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia. “Both sides honoured the match. There were some clashes, but those are part of the sport, otherwise you may as well go to the theatre.
“Tonight’s game does not prove we are clearly superior to Roma. We are a great team, but Roma are doing equally well.
The lads interpreted the two phases of the game very well and deserved the victory, though it was such a balanced encounter that it was open to just about any result.”
“I have been in Serie A for seven years and I rarely got angry with a referee in my career. Reducing everything down to Rocchi’s decisions doesn’t explain what happened over the 90 minutes.”
“Was Vidal in Skorupski’s line of vision when Bonucci took the volley? Yes, he was.”
“We have so far conceded only two goals in six Serie A games. We created many chances tonight and have a very variable attacking approach. The lads are doing well, we control the ball better than at the start of the season and I think that is very important.I inherited an exceptional group that wants to do even better. This team has such technical quality and knows how to play football. When you have players who take on such responsibility, it’s much easier for a Coach.”
Match-winner Leonardo Bonucci was ecstatic with his winning goal and was visibly happy with the three points,
“This goal is worth three very heavy points. We played against a great Roma side, but once again reiterated that we are the best. We replied to going behind like a great team, as under pressure we needed to find the strength to get back in front.”
“We made one mistake and were penalised, but we proved once more that Juve are the best team in Italy. There was too much tension, we said that to each other on the field, but in games of this importance every tiny thing is amplified. We all should’ve kept more of a lid on it.”
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon was cautious in his replies and preferred to comment on the game rather than the performance of the referee, “There is no longer a gap or any big difference between Juve and Roma. The two teams created a very entertaining spectacle. Roma have a different self-belief compared to previous years and have become an even stronger squad, so it’s only normal the gap has been completely wiped out.”
“I have no idea if Rocchi was out of shape, as I don’t watch the referees as they train during the week! What I can say is that you cannot doubt the quality of a referee like Rocchi.”
Juventus move three points clear of Roma with this win but thirty-two fascinating weeks remain in what promises to be a season-long rivalry between these two clubs.