A match pitting a team that hadn't scored in nearly 350 minutes against a side threatened with relegation rarely has the makings of a thrilling encounter. But while the game between Juventus and Cesena may not be held up as a model of fabulous, flawless football, it certainly provided plenty of "oohs" and "ahhs," often punctuated with laughter. Alessandro Matri grabbed two for the visitors, proving that at least one player on Juventus can score, before Luis Jiménez converted a penalty to bring Cesena within one. In between, Emanuele Giaccherini nominated himself for worst miss of the Serie A season, Gianluigi Buffon nearly saw another straight red, and Marco Motta collected a second yellow before the halftime break. After play resumed, things calmed down a bit, although all the pressure was coming from the Seahorses. It paid off in the 80th minute when Marco Parolo drove a loose ball into the back of the net for the 2-2 equalizer.
Matri, who had a goal called back in the ninth minute for offside, opened the scoring for Juventus. Alessandro Del Piero took the ball up from midfield, weaving through the Cesena defense to slide the pass through to Matri. A hard shot caught goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli slightly unawares, with him unable to do anything but dive toward the ball.
Giaccherini missed an absolute shocker a few minutes later, going one on one with Gigi Buffon before sending a shot off the post. Giaccherini picked up his own rebound but rather than simply poking the ball into the open net, he sent the shot high and wide.
Despite the Cesena pressure, it was Juventus that scored the second, even though Del Piero did his gosh-darned best to emulate Giaccherini, sending his shot against the Cesena post. Matri was there to meet the rebound, however, consorting his body to get the ball into the back of the net. The former Cagliari man has now scored the last five goals for Juventus.
Cesena pulled one back before the break, earning a penalty kick when Gigi Buffon charged out to push Parolo off his feet. Jiménez converted, taking it quickly while Buffon and others were still distracted by a flare burning near the goal. The keeper's foul was a clear red by the book, but he escaped with just a yellow.
Juventus weren't as lucky when they gambled on Motta. The defender, out of favor recently, did a poor job of selling himself. He'd earned his first yellow by the 23rd minute and was sent off in the 43rd after a high challenge on Giaccherini. The teams headed off for their cappuccino break 2-1, but Cesena had to be a bit more confident, knowing they at least had a man advantage for the second half.
Sure enough, it was the Seahorses that came out flying in the second half. In this situation, of course, you expect Juventus to tighten up and simply do everything in their power to keep Cesena from finding an equalizer. Instead it was Buffon who did most of the work. Giuseppe Colucci shoots -- Gigi saves. Erjon Bogdani shoots -- Gigi saves. Jiménez shoots, Buffon saves, Colucci comes in to grab the ball, falls down, Giaccherini takes the shot instead, again -- Gigi saves.
It took Cesena almost until the end of the match, but eventually they managed to break through the gloves of Buffon. Maurizio Lauro sent in a free kick, which fell to Vincenzo Iaquinta. The Juventus man, brought in to replace Matri, failed to clear, allowing Parolo to charge through and put the ball in the back of the net.
Juventus had a chance in injury time to take all three points, but Antonioli just managed to collect the header from Iaquinta before the onrushing Leonardo Bonucci could jump in. Cesena come away with a deserved point, but the question remains: will one point from five matches be enough to save Gigi Delneri from the ax?