Juve in controversial

Juventus Midfielder Arturo Vidal

Serie A leaders Juventus enjoyed a huge let off on their way to a 1-0 victory at Catania after the Sicilians appeared to have a legitimate goal wrongly disallowed on Sunday.

Midfielder Arturo Vidal scored the winner in the second half but, to add to the controversy, Juventus striker Nicklas Bendtner appeared to be fractionally offside when he had a shot saved in the move leading to the goal.

To add to their woes, Catania finished with 10 men after Giovanni Marchese was sent off for two bookable offences including a very harsh first yellow card for a routine foul.

The win left Juventus with 25 points from a possible 27 and extended their unbeaten Serie A record to 48 games, a run which began at the end of the season before last.

Catania will feel enormously hard done by after having a 26th minute goal disallowed at a point when they were dominating the match.

Giovanne Marchese’s cross was headed on to the post by Nicolas Spolli and Gonzalo Bergessio easily snapped up the rebound with no hint of offside or foul play by the home attack.

But as Catania players and the crowd were celebrating the goal, the linesman flagged and the referee disallowed the goal amid angry protests from the home side.

Catania had four players booked in quick succession after the incident as they came close to losing their heads and club president Antonino Pulvirenti was ordered from the team bench for dissent.

Goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, one of seven Argentines in the Catania starting line-up, denied Juventus a halftime lead with a miraculous point-blank save from Mirko Vucinic.

Juventus made the most of their letoff as they took control after halftime and went ahead just before the hour.

Andrea Pirlo found Bendtner inside the area and although the Dane, who appeared to be marginally offside, shot weakly, Andujar failed to hold the ball and Chile midfielder Vidal scored from the rebound.

Marchese was sent off in the 66th minute for deliberate handball and Juventus wasted several chances to increase their lead.

The controversy will keep Juventus firmly in the spotlight after President Andrea Agnelli’s comments on Friday that Italian football needed drastic reform.

“We support a structural reform of professional football … those who don’t (support it) condemn Italy to being marginalised in Europe and the world,” he told a Juventus shareholders’ meeting.

He said this included “comprehensive reform of sporting justice, which cannot deal with investments worth millions of euros as though they were a dispute in a local sports club.”

On Saturday, Roma coach Zdenek Zeman replied: “They (the Agnellis) had football in their hands for 20 years and there was all the time needed to make those improvements.”

 

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