Serie A leaders Juventus were kept at bay by unlikely opposition, with SPAL holding them to a 0-0 draw at the Paolo-Mazza Stadium on Saturday night.
The home side had only beaten Juve once before, winning just one of their Serie A games against the defending champs way back in 1957. But they did come into the match having avoided defeat in their last three league matches, winning twice and drawing once.
The Old Lady, on the other hand, were hoping for another clean sheet, having kept nine from their last nine matches and intent on breaking their record of 10 consecutive clean sheets from the 2015/16 season.
SPAL seemed quite motivated to halt Juve’s defensive run in the opening minutes, pressing the champions and really going for it. The first real opportunity fell to the visitors, but Filippo Costa did well to slide in and block Alex Sandro’s shot after Douglas Costa had played him in with pass into the box in the 11th minute.
The 30th minute couldn’t have come any faster for SPAL, whose players must have been feeling very fortunate to see the scores level at that point, given that they were the team who’d conceded the most goals in the opening 30 minutes with 18, while Juve had scored the most in the same period with 22.
The hosts managed to survive the first half, although they were given a bit of a scare from Paulo Dybala’s free-kick from 25 yards out after the Argentinian was brought down in a great position just outside the box moments before half time.
The striker’s curling shot was a bit too high, much to his frustration as the whistle would blow immediately after.
I Bianconeri started the second period on a bright note, with Costa whipping a wicked ball across the face of the goal five minutes in. Spal’s keeper, though, was able to palm it away for a corner.
Giorgio Chiellini had to be taken off with 10 minutes to go after complaining about a hamstring issue and Andrea Barzagli was sent on as a replacement.
Mario Mandzukic, who came on for Kwadwo Asamoah in the 64th minute, would miss a free header around the 81st minute after making contact with Costa’s cross from the right side of the box. The unmarked Croatian, perhaps thinking he was under pressure, nodded the ball wide.
The leaders, unable to break free in regulation, were handed five extra minutes. But even that wasn’t enough as the home side held on until the final whistle, claiming an important point which has seen them crawl out of the bottom three, albeit having played two extra games.
Juve, meanwhile, will be disappointed as they missed a great chance to extend their lead at the top to seven points, with Napoli set to play Genoa on Sunday.