Juventus managed a big win over AC Milan to keep pace with Roma and Napoli at the top of Serie A, but it wasn't without its difficulties. The Old Lady had the worst possible start, conceding inside the first minute, and they had to contend with some poor officiating to claw their way back to victory. But claw their way back they did, securing a 3-2 win thanks to the efforts of Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco.
Before anyone could blink, the visitors found themselves ahead. The ball had been jammed into Juventus' half immediately, and Antonio Nocerino's mis-hit shot found the hosts' defence off balance -- and, crucially, Sulley Muntari available to redirect it past Gianluigi Buffon at the back post. 22 seconds had elapsed.
If the visitors were expecting the defending champions to be cowed by going down early, they were sorely mistaken. Their response was fast and furious, and within fifteen minutes they had their equaliser. In between Muntari's strike and Pirlo's well-worked free kick, Juventus had three reasonable chances, with Fabio Quagliarella blazing over and both Giorgio Chiellini and Kwadwo Asamoah called into action.
As soon as the Old Lady got their equaliser, however, the attacking storm subsided, allowing Milan enough breathing room to start playing football again. But although Juventus dropped from their early pace, they were still the better side, and could (should) have won a penalty after Carlos Tevez went down in the box after what looked like a clear foul from Kevin Constant.
The second half started positively for the visitors, with Robinho just missing with what might have been the best chance of the game after he was played in by Alessandro Matri just after the restart. Things went back to normal shortly thereafter, however, and Juventus were eventually able to grab the goal their play deserved when Giovinci, on the pitch for all of two minutes, raced onto a loose ball, danced through a slew of Milan defenders, and smashed past Abbiati for the 2-1 lead.
The hosts would put the game to bed shortly thereafter. Philippe Mexes, already on a booking, managed to get himself sent off for foul on Giovinci, and Pirlo came up big with another free kick. He didn't score this time, but he did enough, beating Abbiati and hitting the crossbar, giving Chiellini an open goal into which to direct the rebound. Up two men and a goal, the match was over, but there was enough time for Muntari to grab his second of the match, a deflected effort that beat Buffon at the near post. It wouldn't matter -- thanks to Robinho's last-gasp miss, Juventus had the points wrapped up.
Juventus starting lineup (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Kwadwo Asamoah, Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Simone Padoin (Paul Pogba 55'); Fabio Quagliarella (Sebastian Giovinci 67'), Carlos Tevez.
Goals: Pirlo 15', Giovinco 69', Chiellini 75'.
AC Milan starting lineup (4<4>2): Christian Abbiati; Kevin Constant, Philippe Mexes, Christian Zapata, Ignazio Abate; Nigel de Jong, Sulley Muntari, Antonio Nocerino, Riccardo Montolivo; Alessandro Matri, Robinho.
Goals: Muntari 1', 90'.