TURIN, ITALY - DECEMBER 04: Gianluigi Buffon (R) of Juventus FC celebrates victory with his team-mates at the end of the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AC Cesena at Juventus Stdium on December 4, 2011 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Juventus twice came back from a goal deficit to eventually run away with the Italian Super Cup thanks to two late red cards against Napoli
The annual kick-off of the Italian soccer season found itself in Beijing for the second straight year as the 2012 Serie A champions Juventus faced off against the Coppa Italia champions Napoli for the Italian Super Cup. Despite the rainy weather, fans were rewarded with an entertaining match, in which both clubs looked like anything but teams at the end of the pre-season.
The match's opening goal was one of the more unusual strikes from Edinson Cavani you'll probably ever see. After beating Juve's back line and staying just onside, Cavani raced in on a breakaway against Gianluigi Buffon. Buffon came off his line and made a fantastic play to deflect the ball back away from goal, but Cavani was able to turn, regain possession and beat Buffon with a shot from the top of the box.
Kwadwo Asamoah answered for Juventus in the 37th minute with a just plain awesome volley strike. Arturo Vidal switched the field with a lofty cross the field that Asamoah ran right up to and buried in the net past Morgan De Sanctis with a wicked left-footed shot. Napoli wasted little time taking back the lead just four minutes later when Goran Pandev beat Buffon with a low hard shot to the corner of the goal, nicely finishing a patented Napoli fast break.
Juventus spent most of the second half picking away at Napoli's defense as the Partenopei tempted fate with some dodgy tackles. De Santics made a pair of stunning saves, but the equalier was inevitable and it finally came in the 72nd minute thanks to a penalty. Substitute Federico Fernández made an ill-advised challenge from behind on Mirko Vucinic and the referee pointed to the spot. Vidal beat De Sanctis with well placed penalty to the lower right corner of the goal and the drama was on.
In the 83rd minute the referee couldn't resist further helping to determine the outcome of the match by giving a completely inexplicable red card to Napoli's Goran Pandev. It appeared that Pandev may of had a comment for the linesman about an offside call, but giving a straight red for that is absolutely absurd. The refere wasn't done thoug and sent off Juan Zuniga and head coach Walter Mazzarri during stoppage time, leaving Napoli with the near impossible task of surviving 30 minute of extra time with nine men.
Juventus took the lead in the 97th minute as De Sanctis missed punching a cross way and Christian Maggio failed to clear the ball, instead heading right in to the back of his own net. Mirko Vucinic poured more salt in Napoli's wounds, easily scoring off a headed pass from Claudio Marchisio and putting Juve ahead 4-2 in the 101st minute.
If you're a neutral, it was a disappointing end to what had been a highly entertaining match for the first 70+ minutes. Napoli really have only themselves to blame though after resorting to increasingly physical tactics to keep Juventus from threatening the goal.
The win gives Juventus their first Supercoppa Italiana since 2003.