Lowly Lecce stun Juve to boost survival hopes

Lecce boosted their hopes of escaping relegation while denting Juventus's chances of qualifying for the Champions League with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Updated: February 20, 2011 22:25 IST
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Rome: Lecce boosted their hopes of escaping relegation while denting Juventus's chances of qualifying for the Champions League with a 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Djamel Mesbah and Andrea Bertolacci scored for the southerners as Juventus had goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon sent off after just 12 minutes.

Hosts Lecce also had captain Giuseppe Vives dismissed in the second half but missed a host of chances to inflict a heavy defeat on their visitors.

After their 1-0 win over champions Inter Milan last week, Juventus returned to earth with a bump having apparently failed to heed coach Luigi Delneri's warning that this was the more important game.

Juventus lined up as they have several times recently with four natural centre-backs and immediately Lecce's small and nippy forwards exploited their opponents' lack of mobility.

There was an ominous sign of things to come just two minutes in when David Di Michele beat the offside trap and ran onto a ball over the top with Buffon charging from his line to head clear of the onrushing striker.

Lecce looked set to take the lead on nine minutes as Mesbah was teed up on the edge of the box but he lifted his shot well over the bar.

The turning point came just three minutes later with an identical chance for Di Michele to the earlier one, only this time he reached the ball first and Buffon instinctively stuck out a left hand to block his shot, but outside his box.

The straight red card shown to the goalkeeper was inevitable and Milos Krasic was sacrificed to bring on substitute shot-stopper Marco Storari.

Lecce took the lead just past the half-hour mark as Gianni Munari played a perfect ball over the top and Mesbah took it down on his chest before slotting between Storari's legs.

Carlos Grossmuller then shot wide when well placed as Lecce started to dominate.

And they should have had a second a couple of minutes before the break on a swift counter but Storari dived to his right to parry Mesbah's curling effort.

Lecce only had to wait three minutes after the restart for their second as they opened up Juve's creaking defence once again, with Vives chipping the ball to the back post for Di Michele to head across goal where Bertolacci tapped home.

Juve were coming apart at the seams and Grossmuller should have done better as Lecce broke three against one before skewing a shot into the side-netting with the goal gaping after Lecce ripped Juve open once again.

The game should have been dead and buried but Juve were given hope 20 minutes from time as the Lecce captain stupidly picked up two bookings in two minutes to restore numerical parity.

Even so they still had the best chance to score again as Storari's attempted clearance hit Grossmuller and spun up in the air to the unmarked substitute Javier Chevanton but with time and space to bring the ball down, he inexplicably attempted a crowd-pleasing overhead bicycle kick and sent his shot wide.

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