Serie A 2019-20 | Hellas Verona 2-1 Juventus: 3 talking points
There was a shock recorded in Serie A, with Hellas Verona defeating Juventus in a 2-1 comeback victory at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.
In what was a lively first half full of goalmouth action, the home side gave as good as they got and thought they had gone ahead in the 17th minute when center-back Marash Kumbulla headed into the net but the goal was rightly disallowed for offside after consultations with VAR.
This seemed to spark the Old Lady into life and they hit the post twice before the break, first through Douglas Costa and then Cristiano Ronaldo, but for all of the endeavour by both sides, the first half ended goalless.
The Portuguese international was, however, not to be denied and he scored a brilliant individual goal mid-way through the second half but former Liverpool man Fabio Borini levelled matters for the hosts, before Giampaolo Pazzini completed the turnaround with an 86th minute penalty after Leonardo Bonucci had been penalized for handball.
The victory propelled Verona up to sixth on the standings, while Juventus remain at the summit and in this piece, we shall be highlighting three talking points from the Serie A fixture.
#3 Cristiano Ronaldo cannot stop scoring
It was just three months ago that an off-colour Cristiano Ronaldo was hauled off in the latter stages of Juventus' clash with AC Milan and rather than go to the bench, the Portuguese international walked straight down the tunnel, with reports emanating that he drove off from the stadium immediately.
Expectedly, criticisms came the way of the Madeira native, with many including the great Fabio Capello suggesting that he was past his prime and was no longer the force of nature he once was. Admittedly, they had a point, as Ronaldo was going through a rough patch at the time but if history has shown us anything, it is that it is just not in his DNA to settle for less.
The former Real Madrid man once quipped that 'it seems as if I have to prove myself every season' and while his greatness and achievements means that he has nothing left to prove, the fact that some people still doubt his prowess and ability serves as extra motivation for Ronaldo to silence the critics.
Having settled his differences with Sarri, the five-time Bllon d'Or winner has been seemingly reborn and is currently playing some of the best football of his career.
Against Verona, he exchanged a quick one-two with Paulo Dybala in the center-circle and ran across half the field, holding off the challenge of Amir Rrahmani before slotting the ball calmly past Marco Silvestri.
The goal was his 20th of the season - just one short of the mark he hit last term - and more crucially, it was the 10th straight Serie A match in which he has scored, making him the first Juventus player in history to achieve this feat.
We've been blessed to witness almost unparalleled greatness from Cristiano Ronaldo since he laced up boots for the first time but despite entering his 19th year as a professional footballer, he has shown no signs of stopping.
#2 Hellas Verona continue dream return to the top-flight
Hellas Verona competed in the Serie B last season and ended the campaign in fifth place, having to navigate a tricky play-off stage to secure their return to the big time.
Anyone who expected them to, however, be a pushover has been given a huge shock as I Gialloblu have been among the most impressive sides competing for the Scudetto this term.
With just 24 goals conceded (4th best in the league), their defence has been their strongest point and coach Ivan Juric has moulded his side into a compact and well-drilled outfit.
Their victory against Juventus means that they have gone eight games without defeat in the league, which is made the more impressive if you consider that their last three matches have come against title-chasing Lazio and Juventus, as well as an improving AC Milan.
Verona currently find themselves sixth in the standings and judging by their form, it would not be beyond them to secure European qualification which is not bad for a side that was squaring off with Benevento, Crotone, and Cosenza this time last year.
#1 Initiative handed to Inter Milan
With Lazio and Inter Milan ensuring that Juventus do not stroll their way to a ninth consecutive league title, the Scudetto race is seeing more action at the top than it has done in a long while.
The Blacocelesti's club-record 11 game winning run saw them established as an unlikely challenger, while Antonio Conte has brought all of his experience to the fore with Inter Milan.
However, the Nerrazurri hit a rough patch at the start of the year and drew three straight matches to lose touch with Juventus, but their shock loss to a struggling Napoli a fortnight ago - brought the Milan side right back into it.
This latest setback by the defending champions would hand more impetus to Inter Milan and they could go level with Juventus if they pick up all three points in the Milan derby on Sunday.
Published 09 Feb 2020, 09:10 IST