A largely successful weekend for Italy’s contingent of Americans Weston McKennie’s Juve as well as Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann’s Venezia go on the road to extend winning runs, continuing their rise in the standings.
Lazio 0 – 2 Juventus
Weston McKennie went the distance alongside Manuel Locatelli in Juve’s central midfield, as they warmed up for their upcoming midweek Champions League encounter with Chelsea by grabbing a fortunate win at Lazio on Saturday.
While conceding nearly 60% of possession to their hosts and needing a pair of fortunate penalties to take the victory, Juventus did a fine job shutting down and frustrating the Lazio attack, allowing only a single shot on-target, while being generally more efficient with their limited time on the ball.
For his part, McKennie completed roughly 86% of his 28 attempted passes, while playing a larger role on defense than offense, with a pair of interceptions and clearances.
The visitors were on the board in the 23rd minute, after an initially-ignored penalty appeal by Juve following a foul by Danilo Cataldi on Álvaro Morata was reversed by VAR, with team captain Leonardo Bonucci converting perfectly with a rocket to the upper right corner of Pepe Reina’s goal.
At the hour mark, a rare misplaced pass by McKennie just inside the attacking half led to a potentially dangerous counter-attacking run by Lazio’s Luis Alberto, however he momentarily froze his advance a few yards outside of the 18-yard box, allowing the Juve defense the time to snuff out his attempt.
However, any chances of a comeback by the hosts were put to rest with ten minutes left on the clock. Federico Chiesa received a long ball in the left flank and stormed into the area, pulling Reina out of his area, and easily leaping over his clearance attempt.
In an attempt to recover, the Spanish keeper rushed back into the area and clumsily cut the attacker down from behind, giving Bonucci the chance to subsequently double the advantage from the spot with a powerful strike to the right side of goal.
The Bianconeri continue their advance through the Serie A standings, although are still in XXth place, a full four points out of the Champions League places. They are back in action with their massive Champions League group decider at Chelsea on Tuesday, then host high-flying Atalanta on Saturday evening.
FC Bologna 0 – 1 Venezia FC
Gianluca Busio returned from international duty on fire, setting up Venezia’s winning goal on Sunday in a narrow road victory over Bologna.
Busio played the first 80 minutes of the game in the team’s central midfield, picking up his third yellow card of the season, while Tanner Tessmann also continued to earn significant substitute minutes, playing the final half-hour in the midfield.
A deadly-efficient performance on both sides of the ball saw Busio complete all but two of his 29 attempted passes, while setting up the winning and putting the brakes on several Bologna attacks with a pair of intercepted passes.
In his 30 minutes of play Tessmann also managed a pair of shots towards the Bologna goal, however was largely forced to play disrupter in the midfield as the hosts piled on the pressure looking to equalize.
The overall flow of play was largely one-sided, with Bologna holding two-thirds of the possession and managing 22 shots – six on target – compared to Venezia’s total of eight. The visiting keeper Sergio Romero was up to the task, making five saves on the afternoon, despite getting called for delaying the game late on, and picking up a yellow for his efforts.
The game was ultimately decided by a instance of direct, scrappy play by the visitors to eek out the result.
Venezia captain Pietro Ceccaroni launched a long ball from deep in his team’s own half of the field which Thomas Henry chested down to the foot of Sofian Kiyine. The Belgian international advanced the ball a few yards towards the area the shifted it over to Busio, who fought through three defenders and barely maintained possession long enough to slip it forward to David Okereke.
Okereke, who had snuck into the left side of the area, barely beat Bologna keeper Lukasz Skurupski to the ball, and toe-poked it into the net for his fourth goal of the season and the 61st-minute winner.
This is the second consecutive victory and third straight unbeaten for the Winged Lions, putting them momentarily in 13th place, ahead of the remaining Monday-night Serie A games. They have a tough run ahead, with Inter awaiting next Saturday, and Atalanta four days later.
Bryan Reynolds was on the bench for Roma’s 2-0 win at Genoa on Sunday evening, but not called into action.
Andrija Novakovich played the last 20-odd minutes for Frosinone on Saturday afternoon, but was not able to help them pull off a last second winner against visiting Lecce in the teams’ scoreless draw. Frosinone remain in the Serie B promotion playoff spots with the result, and are back in action next Saturday against Pordenone.
Giuseppe Barone did not make Ascoli’s bench for their 1-0 road win over Pordenone on Saturday. The victory brings the momentarily into the promotion playoff spot, and they will try to continue their climb next Saturday when they host Monza.