Juve squander chances at Bologna

Turin side held to a costly draw at Bologna giving AC Milan the advantage in the race for Italy's Serie A crown.

    Juve maintained their unbeaten run this season but squandered chances to keep the pressure on leaders Milan [GETTY]

    Juventus maintained their unbeaten run this season but fell behind AC Milan in the Italian Serie A title race following a 1-1 draw at Bologna on Wednesday.

    The Old Lady of Turin failed to make the most of their game in hand on the champions and now trail Milan by two points with 12 matches left.

    Veteran captain Marco Di Vaio gave the hosts a 17th minute lead but Montenegro forward Mirko Vucinic equalised just before the hour mark.

    Juve have not lost in 26 league games this season - and 29 matches including the Italian Cup - but they have drawn exactly half of those.

    It was their third draw in a row and fifth in six games, and that is the reason they are looking up at Milan rather than down.

    Costly draw

    "I said it before but I have nothing to reproach the lads for," insisted Juve coach Antonio Conte.

    "Today, as against Chievo, we played very well against a top team with great quality.

    "I'm disappointed not to have won, we had the chances, we played great football, we showed great desire, intensity and determination. These lads need to be congratulated because they haven't lost (this season)."

    Had they won, Juve would have gone above Milan due to their better head-to-head record.

    Once again the Turin giants proved lacking in attack as they failed to put Bologna under sustained pressure, although their makeshift centre-back pairing - including full-back Martin Caceres as both Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini were injured - had a largely quiet night.

    That was until Leonardo Bonucci was dismissed six minutes from time for a second booking meaning that if Juve do not get one of Barzagli or Chiellini back this weekend, they will have no specialist centre-halves against Genoa.

    It was not such a quiet night for Conte, either, who was sent to the stands in the second half for protesting, although he claimed he had done nothing wrong.

    "There was a general protest from the bench, it was nothing, I was very surprised," he said.

    "But these things happen in football, we'll take stock and go forwards."

    Quiet half

    Juve did little in the first half to demonstrate their title credentials with Jean-Francois Gillet a virtual spectator in the Bologna goal.

    His one nervous moment in the first 45 minutes came when a deflected Andrea Pirlo free-kick wrong-footed him before the ball crept just past the far post.

    Bologna took the lead with a goal of sumptuous quality as Gaston Ramirez's perfectly-weighted pass allowed Di Vaio to beat the offside trap and the veteran forward finished expertly first time past the onrushing Gianluigi Buffon.

    Juve's best chances thereafter saw Simone Pepe's shot blocked and Arturo Vidal lash wildly over the bar.

    Having been so disciplined and organised in the first period, Bologna momentarily lost their shape 14 minutes into the second half, and they paid dearly.

    Pirlo sliced open the defence with an inch-perfect through ball that Vucinic met first time with a clever dink to beat Gillet.

    That changed the momentum of the game and Juve started to dominate.

    Gillet saved a low header from Stephan Lichtsteiner at his near post while Marco Borriello prodded just wide from a Simone Pepe cross.

    But the late sending off ensured Juve were left holding on rather than pushing for a winner.

    In other games, a Sebastian Giovinco penalty three minutes from time earned Parma a 2-2 draw at home to Fiorentina while Cesena moved off the bottom following a goalless draw at home to Catania. 



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