It was an immensely controversial victory for Juventus, as Catania saw a perfectly good goal disallowed, went down to 10 men and Arturo Vidal’s winner was offside. The debate over this match is sure to rumble on for days or even weeks.
The Bianconeri were flying high on top of the table, but smarting from a third consecutive Champions League draw. With Claudio Marchisio and Lucio injured, they opted to give Paul Pogba and Nicklas Bendtner their first Serie A starts. Catania hadn’t won this fixture since the 1960s, but chose to mirror the 3-5-2 system rather than their habitual 4-3-3, giving Uruguayan Alexis Rolin his debut and pushing Pablo Barrientos into a deeper role.
Gianluigi Buffon celebrated his 500th League appearance between Serie A and B, but it was Mariano Andujar who had his palms stung at the third minute by a ferocious Arturo Vidal snapshot.
Leonardo Bonucci went shoulder to shoulder with Gonzalo Bergessio on the edge of the box, but the referee waved away appeals for a foul.
A free kick was cleared to outside the area for Kwadwo Asamoah to smash his strike just over the bar. At the other end, Andrea Barzagli had to nod a chipped Alejandro Gomez cross off the head of Bergessio in the six yard area after a splendid run down the right from Papu. Juve did not deal at all well with the resulting corner, but eventually hoofed it clear.
Bendtner didn’t get enough power on his header into Andujar’s arms, while Giovanni Marchese got to the by-line and flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
Catania were starting to push forward and thought they had broken the deadlock when Marchese’s cross found a Nicolas Spolli glancing header on to the far post, then Bergessio tapped in the rebound. The Sicilians were still celebrating when referee Gervasoni disallowed it on advice from his assistant. The decision was for offside, but the replays clearly show that Bergessio was level both when Spolli made contact and when the header clipped off Francesco Lodi’s knee. Catania were furious and President Antonino Pulvirenti was sent off from the bench for dissent. Over the next few minutes, five Catania players were booked as the tension was at breaking point.
Bendtner’s diving header from an Andrea Pirlo free kick clipped the crossbar, though the Dane was flagged offside. Pogba drilled just over the bar from distance with a dipping screamer, but Vucinic should’ve done better when a clearance ricocheted into his path, blocked off at the last moment by Nicola Legrottaglie.
Bendtner knocked down a cross for Vucinic, who this time forced a remarkable reaction save out of Andujar from point-blank range. Pirlo also stung the goalkeeper’s gloves towards half-time in the fiery Stadio Massimino atmosphere.
Juventus took the lead after the restart when Vucinic threaded through for Bendtner – marginally offside – and Andujar was only able to parry the shot into the path of Vidal to slide into an empty net.
Moments later the crowd was further enraged as Stephan Lichtsteiner charged down a Gomez cross-shot with his elbow, but the arm was tight against his body.
Vidal went on a mazy run and drilled the angled drive just wide, while Pogba got a hand in the face from Spolli.
Catania went down to 10 men after 66 minutes when Marchese picked up a second yellow card for intercepting a pass with his arm. From the resulting Pirlo free kick, Pogba’s free header was palmed off the line at the back post with another great Andujar save.
Andujar smothered at Bendtner’s feet from a Pogba pass and substitute Sebastian Giovinco saw a scorching shot pushed out from under the bar by the alert Catania goalkeeper.
A Lodi free kick was nodded on to the side-netting by Lichtsteiner under pressure, then Bendtner’s pull-back for Giovinco was crucially intercepted by Spolli. Andujar denied Vidal again with a strong hand pushing the fierce finish round the upright. In the final minute Taka Morimoto went down under an Asamoah challenge, but the referee waved play on, considering the Ghanaian simply stronger than his opponent.
In stoppages Giovinco ended a mazy run with an awful finish over the bar. Catania were pouring forward even with 10 men and Giovinco then went on the counter and Legrottaglie brought him down outside the box, but the referee opted against what would've been a straight red card.
Sent off: Marchese 66 (C)