An inspired performance from FC Copenhagen goalkeeper Johan Wiland meant the Bianconeri were forced to settle for a point from this evening’s Champions League Group B opener in Denmark.
It was one-way traffic from the moment the hosts edged themselves in front on 14 minutes through Nicolai Jorgensen, but Wiland succeeded in repelling wave after wave of Bianconeri attacks on a frustrating night at Parken Stadium.
The returning Fabio Quagliarella eventually managed to find a way past the seemingly impenetrable shotstopper, drifting away from his man to register his fifth goal in eight Champions League games shortly after the restart.
And just as it seemed the balance had begun to tilt firmly in the visitors’ favour, Wiland came to the rescue again, producing saves from Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez and substitute Sebastian Giovinco to safeguard a share of the spoils for Stale Solbakken’s men.
As hinted in yesterday’s pre-match press conference, Antonio Conte took the opportunity to freshen up his first-team selection ahead of a congested European and domestic fixture schedule.
Angelo Ogbonna, making his first start in Europe’s elite club competition, slotted in at the heart of defence, while Federico Peluso featured on the left flank and Quagliarella was given the nod as Tevez’s partner in attack.
Ivan Bebek's first whistle paved the way for an entertaining opening in which both sides attempted to gain the measure of each other. There were chances at either end: Tevez angled a right-footed shot into the side netting after connecting with Andrea Pirlo’s corner, before Gigi Buffon made a routine save from Fanendo Ali’s deflected attempt.
But it was the hosts who would take a 14th minute lead. A teasing set-piece delivery into the penalty area was cleared only as far as Nicolai Jorgensen, who took one touch before prodding the ball into the bottom corner.
Juventus sought to conjure up an immediate response to falling behind and fashioned two golden opportunities in the space of a minute.
First, Giorgio Chiellini saw his diving header expertly thwarted by Wiland, before the goalkeeper produced yet another miracle to keep out Paul Pogba’s close-range strike that seemed odds on to burst the back of the net.
With the FC Copenhagen rearguard now starting to come under significant pressure as the Bianconeri committed numbers forward, Tevez sensed his chance to try and test his range when the ball fell to him on the edge of the area just past the half hour mark, only for the Argentine to curl his effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Any domestic frailties alluded to by Solbakken in yesterday’s meeting with the media failed to manifest themselves as the hosts rose to the occasion by keeping possession neatly and looking to take advantage of any opportunities that came their way on the counter.
Spurred on by Conte’s half-time team talk, Juventus emerged for the second period with an added spring in their step and had an excellent chance to restore parity when Pirlo’s through ball picked out Tevez’s dart towards goal. The Argentine made a strong connection and kept his shot low and true, but Wiland again proved up to the task, blocking the striker with his feet.
Moments later, however, Juventus were back on level terms. A neat passing move culminated in Peluso picking out the run of Quagliarella, who stole a yard on his marker to power an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net on 54 minutes.
The goal lifted Bianconeri spirits and enabled them to play with increased confidence and freedom in their attempts to get this season’s Champions League adventure off to a winning start.
And as tired legs began to set in, Stephan Lichtsteiner continued to experience increased joy down the right-hand side, almost contributing a second for Quagliarella, with the striker’s neat glancing header cannoning agonisingly back off the crossbar.
Juventus kept knocking on the door but were again denied by the heroics of Wiland, who was at full stretch to keep out both Vidal, Tevez and late substitute Giovinco as the clock ticked down towards full time.
With a total of 27 attempts on goal compared to the hosts’ figure of nine, the Bianconeri could be forgiven for thinking that history was repeating itself after last year’s dominant display in the final third against Nordsjaelland also failed to yield a maximum haul of points.
The Bianconeri will now look ahead towards October’s visit of Galatasaray, when they will aim to get three points on the board before tackling a mouthwatering double-header against Real Madrid