Alvaro Morata double helps Juventus rally to beat Lazio and keep pressure on Milan sides
Serie A, Juventus Stadium – Juventus 3 (Rabiot 39’, Morata 57’, 60’ P) Lazio 1 (Correa 14’)
Alvaro Morata of Juventus celebrates with Adrien Rabiot after scoring their team's third goal from the penalty spot during the Serie A match between Juventus and SS Lazio at Allianz Stadium on March 06, 2021 in Turin, Italy.
With Cristiano Ronaldo named on the bench, Alvaro Morata stepped up to the mark to score twice and help keep Juventus' slim title hopes alive after a battling victory over Lazio at Allianz Stadium.
Ronaldo was rested ahead of the crucial Champions League tie with Porto in midweek and Juventus were also missing the injured Matthijs de Ligt and Giorgio Chiellini in defence.
A depleted Juventus had it all to do as Lazio came flying out of the traps and took the lead in the 14th-minute through Joaquin Correa after an impressive run through the heart of the makeshift defence.
Lazio's Argentine forward Joaquin Correa (R) kicks the ball and scores his team's first goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Lazio at The Juventus Stadium in Turin, northern Italy on March 6, 2021.
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The hosts had a strong case for a penalty ignored when the ball struck the hand of Wesley Hoedt, but Juventus were also fortunate not to have Alex Sandro sent off after he caught Correa with an elbow.
The Old Lady finally grew into the contest as Adrien Rabiot fired Juventus level with a venomous shot which beat Pepe Reina at his near post, as an action-packed first-half ended 1-1.
The second period was played with the same intensity and Juventus had the crossbar to thank for denying Sergej Milinkovic-Savic goal-bound header.
But two goals from the hosts in the space of three minutes completely changed the complexion of the game.
Morata finished emphatically after latching onto Federico Chiesa's beautifully-weighted pass before the Spaniard bagged his brace from the penalty spot after Aaron Ramsey was fouled by Milinkovic-Savic.
Ronaldo emerged for a cameo but couldn't add to the score, as Juventus claimed the victory that closes the gap on Inter to seven points. Lazio remain seventh.
TALKING POINT - No Ronaldo, no problem
You had to fear the worst for Juventus and their title hopes when news emerged that their top scorer was omitted from the starting XI. The sight of Danilo starting as a makeshift centre-half only compounded the anxiety ahead of a must-win game.
Juventus' Spanish forward Alvaro Morata (L) is congratulated by Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring his team's second goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Lazio
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Juventus started slowly, deservedly falling behind. Their defence was in disarray and in truth Lazio could and perhaps should have had more than one. But then the response. Morata had looked fatigued in the early stages after recently recovering from illness. However, he stepped up when it really mattered with a performance that suggests Juventus can compete in a world without Ronaldo.
It was do or die tonight for Juventus. A loss or a draw and they could have kissed their Scudetto dreams goodbye. But this morale-boosting victory breathes life in the title race. Juventus aren't out of this yet.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Alvaro Morata (Juventus)
In the absence of Ronaldo, the pressure to lead Juventus to victory rested heavily on his shoulders. He answered the call with a clinical display.
Juventus' Spanish forward Alvaro Morata celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Juventus and Lazio at The Juventus Stadium in Turin, northern Italy on March 6, 2021
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Juventus: Szczesny 6, Cuadrado 5, Demiral 7, Danilo 6, Alex Sandro 6, Bernardeschi 6, Ramsey 7, Rabiot 8, Chiesa 8, Kulusevski 7, Morata 8.. subs: Arthur 5, Ronaldo 5, McKennie 5, Bonucci N/A, Di Pardo N/A.
14' - GOAL! Juventus 0-1 Lazio (Joaquin Correa): Lazio deservedly lead! Juventus are the makers of their own undoing as Kulusevski misplaces a pass and the visitors take full advantage. Correa drives forward, dazzles Demiral with a number of stepovers, cuts inside and beats Szczesny at his near post. A lot of work for Juventus to do now!
25' - Strong Juve penalty appeal! Chiesa is fed by Ramsey, the ball flicks up and hits Hoedt's arm inside the penalty area prompting strong appeals for a spot-kick. The referee isn't convinced and VAR seems to agree with his decision as no foul is forthcoming. Lazio may have got away with one here!
35' - Flashpoint! Alex Sandro somehow escapes a red card - or even a booking - for catching Correa with an elbow to the back of the head!
38' - Morata... no! So close to a Juve equaliser! Morata glances a header agonisingly wide from a free-kick delivery. Reina wasn't getting there!
39' - GOAL! Juventus 1-1 Lazio (Adrien Rabiot): A stunning strike by Rabiot from the left side of the penalty area draws Juventus level! Reina is beaten at his near post, but the sheer power and accuracy in the shot leaves the Lazio goalkeeper with no chance!
52' - Lazio hit the crossbar! Milinkovic-Savic makes a run in behind Juventus' defence to meet a ball over the top... but his header smacks off the woodwork and goes over!
57' - GOAL! Juventus 2-1 Lazio (Alvaro Morata): Wow, wow, wow! Juventus take the lead with a devastating counter-attack! Chiesa wins a 50-50 in midfield and Lazio are caught short defensively. His pass is beautifully-weighted to release Morata, who smashes it past Reina.
59' - Penalty to Juventus! This time the referee does point to the spot! Ramsey is bundled over by Milinkovic-Savic - a completely needless challenge - and Juventus have a golden opportunity to score their third!
60' - GOAL! Juventus 3-1 Lazio (Alvaro Morata, pen): Morata steps up... and sends Reina the wrong way! 3-1 and from here Juventus should really see this game out!
Juventus have won seven of their last eight home games against Lazio in Serie A (L1), with an aggregate score of 19-5.
Álvaro Morata has been involved in 15 goals in this Serie A season, his personal record in the Italian top-flight (seven goals, eight assists).