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Lecce 0-1 Juventus: Fagioli lifts dire match from doldrums with dazzling strike
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John Skilbeck
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Nicolo Fagioli runs away in celebration of his winner
Nicolo Fagioli runs away in celebration of his winner

Nicolo Fagioli lit up a drab game with a classy winner for Juventus as Massimiliano Allegri's team scrambled a 1-0 victory at Lecce on Saturday.

The substitute made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute, turning in the penalty area after a short pass from the left flank by Samuel Iling before curling an exquisite shot in off the far post.

Juventus had all the pressure leading up to that, but they rarely threatened a breakthrough, with an injury-hit team playing with little confidence.

Amid their Champions League group-stage failure, this result, however scrappily it was obtained, gives Juventus a third successive win and clean sheet in Serie A.

The quality was poor in the opening half hour, but the tackles were thunderous at times, with four early bookings for the Juventus quartet of Juan Cuadrado, Federico Gatti, Arkadiusz Milik and Fabio Miretti.

Cuadrado, captaining the injury-weakened visitors, slashed a cross-shot well wide, before Adrien Rabiot's ambitious 30-yard attempt in the 32nd minute fizzed along the turf into the grateful arms of Wladimiro Falcone.

Rabiot had the best chance of the half in the 43rd minute, with his powerful header from Filip Kostic's left-wing corner pushed aside by Falcone, whose goal was coming under a growing threat.

Lecce, having won just four of their previous 32 Serie A matches against Juventus, carried next to no threat before the interval and last season's Serie B champions were almost behind early in the second half when Gatti's header from a free-kick nearly gave Milik a tap-in.

It was a game that was almost interesting, nearly distracting. A flick from Milik was gathered by Falcone as Cuadrado closed in, then Milik had a low shot from 20 yards that the goalkeeper had to dive to palm away.

Juventus substitute Moise Kean headed meekly wide when he should probably have scored, and Gatti nodded over, before Fagioli, on since the start of the second half, made his decisive contribution.

Lecce captain Morten Hjulmand hit the post with a skidding shot in the 89th minute as the visitors clung on.

What does it mean? Juve grind it out

By half-time, Lecce had not taken a shot and their expected goals (xG) tally, which measures the quality of chances and the likelihood of scoring, stood at zero. Juventus were only at 0.21 at the break, with the game wholly disappointing.

It barely got out of second gear in the second half, too, until 21-year-old Fagioli took matters into his own hands. The last time Juventus won three in a row with clean sheets was February 2021, with Andrea Pirlo at the helm. 

Now they have done it again, and they remain in the early running for the top four. Allegri needs his senior figures back from the treatment room – with Paul Pogba, Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa among those absent – but for now the likes of Fagioli have the chance to be heroes. He relieved some of the pressure on his boss with his magical moment.

Fagioli's flash of brilliance

Fagioli looked like a past master when his shot arced beyond Falcone and into the top-right corner for a terrific first senior goal with Juventus. 

He lost possession 11 times and won it only on three occasions, and his passing accuracy was just 76.2 per cent, so it was hardly a masterclass of a 45-minute performance from the youngster, but when it mattered most he delivered.

Milik misses out

It was not Milik's day, as he led the Juventus attack but only sporadically threatened the Lecce goal. 

He went close when Falcone got down well to his powerful shot prior to the goal, but that was his only goal attempt of the game and he won just two of eight aerial duels.

What's next?

Juventus are heading out of the Champions League after losing four of five games so far, and they will be battling to earn a place in the Europa League when they host Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday. Lecce are next in action when they travel to face Udinese on Friday.


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