Florence: Serie A champion Juventus lost their perfect record on Tuesday after being held to a scoreless draw at fierce foe Fiorentina in a heated atmosphere at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. Fiorentina had the better chances and midfielder Adem Ljajic should have put them ahead when through one-on-one with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetic, Serie A's top scorer, hit the crossbar while his team also had a penalty appeal turned down. Juventus didn't have a decent shot on goal all night and seemed to be feeling fatigued following their last-minute draw at Chelsea in the Champions League last week and Saturday's Serie A victory over Chievo Verona.
"We probably deserved to win and would have done if we had been better in front of goal and maybe luckier," Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella said. "I can only congratulate the squad and the fans who behaved impeccably. I'm really happy with our performance, but it would have been nice to win because they deserved to be really happy."
Juventus extended their unbeaten streak to 44 games and moved three points ahead of Napoli, which hosts Lazio on Wednesday. Fiorentina is fifth in the standings. "We faced a great Fiorentina side, trained well, set out on the pitch well and in the best conditions," Juventus assistant coach Massimo Carrera said. "You can't always crush your opponents, you also have to be good at reading the match, containing them, which is what we did tonight.
"We didn't manage to do what we had prepared. But I repeat, the merit for that goes to Fiorentina, it's not our demerit. It's a really great merit to the Fiorentina players who ran for 90 minutes.
Fiorentina and Juventus have had a fierce rivalry for decades, and the atmosphere in Florence was predictably hostile with Juve being loudly jeered throughout the game. There were also several banners about Juve coach Antonio Conte, who is currently serving a 10-month ban for his role in a match-fixing scandal.
Conte watched the match from the commentator's box used by Juventus Channel rather than in the stands. It seemed as if Juventus was set to dominate when Sebastian Giovinco had an early shot on goal. However, his low, weak effort from outside the area was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano.
Fiorentina and their fans were screaming for a penalty when Arturo Vidal made a last-ditch sliding tackle on Viola captain Manuel Pasqual, but the referee rightly ruled that the Juventus midfielder had got the ball. The home side began to take control of the game and should have taken the lead shortly before the half-hour mark following a swift one-two, but Ljajic's finish was deflected wide by one of his own teammates.
Juventus almost went in front in the 39th minute, Andrea Pirlo's free kick whistling past the far upright.
Jovetic's header crashed off the crossbar just before halftime. Moments later, Ljajic raced clear of the halfway line, past last defender Leonardo Bonucci to collect a long ball, but Buffon stood tall and the Serbia midfielder fired wide of the left upright.
The hosts continued to dominate after the break, Facundo Roncaglia beating two men before unleashing an effort that scraped just past the left post. Moments later, Jovetic also headed just wide of the left upright. Fiorentina went close again nine minutes before fulltime, when Pasqual's flying header went across the face of goal and the wrong side of the right post.