AS Roma manager Rudi Garcia‘s decision to bring on Miralem Pjanic in the 75th minute proved to be a masterstroke, as the Bosnian midfielder inspired Roma to a 1-0 home win over Juventus in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. The game, a defensive standoff that featured the top two defenses in Italy, was deadlocked at 0-0 with neither side able to make the breakthrough. Goalkeepers Morgan De Sanctis of Roma and Juventus’ Marco Storari were bystanders for much of the match, but it was the latter who was left picking the ball out of his net 10 minutes from time.
Although 23-year-old Pjanic did not start the match, he proved to be the difference maker once again for Roma. Starting with a flick over Leonardo Bonucci in midfield, Pjanic drove at the heart of the Juventus defense before laying the ball off to the overlapping Kevin Strootman, who proceeded to cut it back on the end line for an unmarked Gervinho to stab past Storari in the 79th minute.
The Ivorian’s goal proved to be the winner, as Roma exacted a bit of revenge for their defeat to Juventus earlier in the season and earned their spot in the Coppa Italia semifinals in front of the Giallorossi faithful at the Stadio Olimpico. Juventus fans will point to the fact that manager Antonio Conte fielded a “B team,” but with Bonucci, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Claudio Marchisio all starting, that can hardly be an excuse.
It was a well earned victory for the Romans, who will play the winner of next weeks quarterfinal tie between Napoli and Lazio. If Roma goes on to win the final in May, they will be the first team in Italian history to win 10 Coppa Italia titles and will be rewarded with a silver star to adorn their famous red and yellow jersey.