Dybala's last-gasp winner earns Juve vital victory over Lazio
A last-gasp Paulo Dybala goal clinched all three points for Juventus in their 1-0 defeat of Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.
Despite the fact this was a match between the two highest-scoring teams in the league, both could only muster three shots on target. Lazio clearly set out to neutralise the power of Juventus and did well for much of the game, frustrating the Bianconeri side that failed to produce many noteworthy attacks.
However, it only took a flash of brilliance from Dybala to show strength, hold off the defender and score from Juve's only shot on target to delight his team and the fans who celebrated yet another win in Serie A to keep pace with first-placed Napoli.
The confidence of winning the match in the final minute lifted the squad on a psychological level, ensuring a positive mentality for their European challenge against Tottenham on Wednesday.
This was a woefully poor game from a technical point of view, and Juve struggled to impose themselves on a side that defends in organised fashion. The Bianconeri must learn how to deliver precision and gain control of the game despite the pressure applied by the opponent.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- We witnessed a rare smile from Massimiliano Allegri on the sidelines when Dybala scored the last-minute goal. In truth, Simone Inzaghi and his fatigued side did well to neutralise Juve's talents and Allegri's men should have demonstrated greater variety of play to create danger. Too many errors, but his depleted attack still produced the goods to win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Gianluigi Buffon, 6 -- Careful and concentrated to ensure a clean shot. Always available when called upon.
DF Andrea Barzagli, 7 -- Another excellent display from the defender, who shifted positions, used his intellect to control situations, showed precision with his passing and took care in his tackling.
DF Mehdi Benatia, 6 -- Displayed his usual authority and strength in the vital moments, rescuing his side with decisive plays. His physicality made the difference and kept Ciro Immobile at bay.
DF Daniele Rugani, 7 -- A much improved performance from the youngster, who made some vital clearances, demonstrated his fine reading of the game and even delivered the assist for Dybala's goal. Finally, a little more composure on the ball!
MF Stephan Lichtsteiner, 5 -- Missed his cues, struggled against Jordan Lukaku and provided little going forward. This is not the best performance from the player who received yet another yellow card.
MF Sami Khedira, 6 -- Handled both phases of the game well, if not exceptionally. Could offer a little more support, but good in exploiting the gaps.
MF Miralem Pjanic, 5 -- A performance that didn't live up to expectation. Off the ball, he worked well and tried to deliver, but the problem is he suffers too much when the opponent defends well. He must play with more character on the ball and learn how to create a little more time for himself to ensure precision rather than what he managed on the day: wayward passes and poor control on the ball.
MF Blaise Matuidi, 5 -- Lots of energy and dynamism but he must play with greater discipline and composure to ensure organisation. Too many errors.
MF Kwadwo Asamoah, 6 -- A performance where we saw the good and the bad. He struggled against Senad Lulic and surrendered silly errors, but his crossing was good and proved generous when he combined with his teammates.
FW Mario Mandzukic, 5 -- Squandered another opportunity of the ball and did little to nothing to help Juventus create danger in the final third. A woeful performance from a player who ought to have played with greater mobility.
FW Paulo Dybala, 7 -- For much of the game, Dybala struggled to make an impact, controlling the ball poorly and allowing himself to be dispossessed. However, all is forgotten for the manner in which he flipped the game around by showing his strength to hold back Paolo and direct his shot into goal to grab the win.
FW Douglas Costa, 6 -- Came on and offered his usual electric ability on the ball, but he is often in need of support rather than capable of giving it. Unless he's dribbling and offering speed, he struggles to adapt and still be useful within the game.
FW Alex Sandro, N/A -- Came on and played with ambition and care, offering his aid to both phases of the game.
DF Giorgio Chiellini, N/A -- Came on for less than a minute.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Follow her on Twitter: @Minarzouki.