Defending Italian champions Juventus kick-started the new Serie A campaign against mid-table side Chievo Verona at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi last night. I Bianconerci were expected to sweep the three points at stake with ease, but ended up battling through injury time to scrape a narrow 3-2 victory.
Coach Max Allegri named a formidable lineup, with Chiellini and Bonucci at the heart of the defence once again for the Old Lady, Miralem Pjanic conducting the midfield and Cristiano Ronaldo spearheading their attack. Opponents Chievo had also placed a strong starting eleven, with veteran Stefano Sorrentino behind the sticks and Emmanuel Giaccherini in the front of their attack.
German midfielder Sami Khedira got the proceedings underway with a converted half-volley shot at goal in the third minute of the match before Mariusz Stępiński headed in the equalizer. Juventus found themselves trailing in the 56th minute after Emmanuel Giaccherini converted a crucial penalty conceded by João Cancelo.
The host ended up messing up their chances of a victory when Mattia Bani unwillingly headed the ball towards the back of his own net.
The game was looming towards a draw, which would have been a much better result for Chievo than for Juve until Max Allegri made a game-changing substitution. In the 56th minute, immediately after Chievo took the lead, Federico Bernardeschi came on for Juan Cuadrado at right-midfield.
The Italian sensation looked very threatening in the final third and eventually managed to get the three points for his club after slotting away a menacing low cross from Alex Sandro in the dying minutes of the match.
One of the main reasons that attracted thousands of viewers towards this encounter was the fact that Portugal captain and Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo was set to make his Italian debut. The European champion had impressed one and all with his skills on the ball and his playmaking skills in the opponent half but just didn't manage to get his name on the scoresheet.
Ronaldo managed some powerful shots on target during the second half, but Stefano Sorrentino was prepared for it. He seemed comfortable playing with his new teammates and even dropped back in midfield to help out the team. Ronaldo would be looking forward to his next encounter with Lazio to make his mark in Serie A football.
Juventus will take on Rome-based club Lazio at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday, while Chievo Verona makes their way to Firenze to take on the mighty Fiorentina next Monday.Published 19 Aug 2018, 12:56 IST