Juventus 2-1 Venezia: Birthday boy Bonucci bags brace against bottom side
Leonardo Bonucci marked his 35th birthday with two goals as Juventus made hard work of a 2-1 win over bottom side Venezia to all but secure a top-four finish in Serie A.
The Bianconeri had taken just one point from their previous two matches at the Allianz Stadium but did enough to claim victory against Venezia, who have now lost nine in a row.
Full debutant Fabio Miretti played a big part in Bonucci's headed opener inside seven minutes, but Juve were pegged back through a Mattia Aramu strike 19 minutes from time.
However, Bonucci bundled in a late winner to ensure that his side now require just two points from their remaining three games to keep Roma at bay in the battle for fourth.
Juve nearly opened the scoring four minutes in when Luca Pellegrini fired a ferocious strike against the crossbar from range.
The hosts did not have to wait much longer for their breakthrough, though, as Matthijs de Ligt nodded Miretti's delivery back across goal for Bonucci to turn in from close range.
Venezia, who sacked Pablo Zanetti this week and placed Andrea Soncin in temporary charge, took full advantage of Juve's failure to kill off the match through Aramu's long-ranger.
That had Venezia on course for successive 1-1 draws against Juve, only for the Bianconeri to snatch all three points when a corner was not dealt with and went in off Bonucci's shin.
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Juve have picked up more points on their travels (35) than they have at home this season (34 with this win) and this was another occasion in which they never truly got going.
Massimiliano Allegri's side have lost just one of their past 21 league games overall and also have a Coppa Italia final with Inter to look forward to later this month.
The immediate priority is nailing down fourth place and, barring a miraculous collapse over their remaining three games, that is as good as achieved.
Leonardo leads the way
Bonucci has now scored five Serie A goals for Juventus this season, which is his best tally in a single campaign.
The veteran Italy international has equalled team-mate Giorgio Chiellini as the defender to have found the net in the most years in the competition since 2000 (13).
Mattia makes his mark
Aramu had gone 14 matches between finding the net in Serie A, with his most recent strike prior to today coming in December's draw with Juventus.
The 26-year-old was Venezia's sole attacking spark, registering all three of his side's attempts on target, including that impressive effort from range.
Key Opta facts
- Bonucci's first against Venezia was his second-fastest Serie A goal (seventh minute), after his very first one in the competition, after five minutes for Bari against Palermo on January 30, 2010.
- Venezia have lost nine successive Serie A matches in a single campaign for the first time in their top-flight history.
- Aramu's goal ended a 350-minute streak without an away goal for Venezia in Serie A, their first since David Okereke's against Verona on February 27.
- De Ligt's assist means he has now been involved in four Serie A goals this season, equalling his best tally in a single campaign in the competition (four goals in 2019/20).
- Miretti (2003) is the first player born since 2002 to have started a Serie A match for Juventus.
Juventus are back in action on Friday with a trip to Genoa, while Venezia travel to fellow strugglers Salernitana on Thursday.