Juventus held to goalless draw by Lazio in Serie A

DANIELLA MATAR Associated Press Published:

MILAN (AP) -- Juventus dominated from start to finish but was held to a 0-0 draw by Lazio in Serie A on Saturday, just three days before its key Champions League match against Chelsea.

Leonardo Bonucci hit the crossbar for Juventus but the defending champion-- which had scored 10 goals in its previous two matches -- could not find a way past Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, who made a number of saves.

Marchetti pulled off a spectacular stop, changing direction midair to keep out Arturo Vidal's deflected effort. Sebastian Giovinco also went close on several occasions for Juventus, who clearly missed the suspended Andrea Pirlo.

"We had so many scoring opportunities and dominated the match, it's a pity we didn't get the goal," Juventus assistant coach Angelo Alessio said. "Lazio played in a catenaccio style and were simply defensive throughout, we even hit the crossbar, if we had scored once it could have finished in a thrashing.

"If you don't score, you don't win, it's simple. But there are only positives to take from tonight. I don't look at what other teams do, only at what we do."

Lazio didn't have a shot on target the entire match and struggled to get out of its own half.

"Congratulations to Juventus," Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic said. "We tried to play but they were to strong and kept on pressing, they trapped us in the area. We have to thank our goalkeeper that it ended 0-0.

"At least tonight we can say we didn't concede, lately we've conceded quite a lot. But up front we didn't have any courage or initiative. However, the point is still good for morale and the standings, we'll hope to give a bit more another time."

Juventus extended its lead at the top of the standings to five points over Inter Milan, which plays Cagliari on Sunday.

Juventus decided against resting players ahead of the Chelsea match but was without key playmaker Pirlo, as well as Mirko Vucinic, who was a late withdrawal from the squad with flu.

However, Paul Pogba returned after being suspended by coach Antonio Conte last weekend for showing up late to training twice.

Lazio beat Roma last weekend to snap a run of three league games without a win, but has not beaten Juventus in nearly nine years. Captain Stefano Mauri and Senad Lulic were banned.

The visiting side had the first half chance of the game in the 14th minute when Abdoulay Konko's poorly-hit shot bobbled wide from 20 meters.

From then on it was all one-way traffic. Kwadwo Asamoah surged down the left flank and into the area before unleashing an effort from a tight angle which Marchetti punched clear.

Juve went closer in the 19th when Marchetti did well to parry Giovinco's shot at full stretch and Fabio Quagliarella hit the rebound into the sidenetting.

Giovinco had two good chances after half an hour as first he turned well on the edge of the area but fired narrowly wide of the left upright.

Seconds later, the young striker did even better, with a sublime piece of control to bring down a long ball and hook it past two defenders, before surging clear, but he again drilled his effort centimeters wide of the left.

Pogba went close shortly after the interval with a long-range effort which flew narrowly over the crossbar.

Marchetti performed a sensational save on the hour mark. Vidal's long-range shot was deflected by Quagliarella, but Marchetti managed to change direction to tip it over the crossbar.

The Lazio goalkeeper was finally beaten in the 75th minute but Bonucci's shot following a corner smacked off the crossbar.