First-half strikes from Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente kept Juventus in touch with the early Serie A pace setters as the hosts came back from a goal behind to grab all three points on an entertaining afternoon at Juventus Stadium.
The newly-promoted Gialloblu had previously stunned Milan with an opening-day 2-1 victory at the Bentegodi, but there was to be no repeat upset in Turin as Antonio Conte’s men recovered from Fabrizio Cacciatore’s shock 36th minute opener – the visitors’ only shot on goal - to record a thoroughly deserved victory.
A Tevez-inspired comeback got the Bianconeri back on level terms four minutes later, while Llorente, making his Serie A debut, turned the game on its head when he headed in Arturo Vidal’s pinpoint cross in the third minute of first-half stoppage time.
Conte had expressed his intent to rotate his starting line-up following Tuesday night’s Champions League exertions and kept to his word by making five changes from Copenhagen.
Marco Storari stepped in for Gigi Buffon between the posts and Angelo Ogbonna was handed his Serie A debut in the black and white stripes in place of Giorgio Chiellini. Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah came in on the flanks for Stephan Lichtsteiner and Federico Peluso respectively, while there was also a first league start for summer signing Fernando Llorente, with Fabio Quagliarella dropping to the bench.
The Bianconeri started positively but were largely restricted to speculative shots from range, with Leonardo Bonucci, Paul Pogba and Tevez all trying their luck in the opening ten minutes. The former almost had the chance to open the scoring after his bustling run forward was neatly picked out by Llorente, only for the ball to fractionally slip out of his reach once in a one-on-one situation with Gialloblu shotstopper Rafael.
With the likes of Barzagli and Ogbonna roaming forward from the offset and forcing Verona to retreat deep inside their own half, Juventus sensed a clear cut opportunity to seize the initiative wouldn’t be long in coming. Tevez saw a goalbound strike beaten away by Rafael on 18 minutes, while the Brazilian was again on hand to gather Arturo Vidal’s header moments later.
Tevez remained a livewire throughout the opening 45 minutes, linking well with his team-mates as Juventus pressed for an opener. And, following a crisp one-two exchange with Vidal, he thought his moment had arrived moments after the half-hour mark, but was left with his head in his hands after the goalkeeper got down to thwart his drilled attempt across goal.
Yet for all the waves of Bianconeri pressure, it was to be the visitors who silenced Juventus Stadium by snatching the lead nine minutes ahead of the interval. A corner floated to the far post caused an element of confusion inside a crowded penalty area, and Cacciatore was on hand to squeeze the ball over the line.
But Juventus refused to let Verona’s shock lead throw them off stride and were made to wait just four minutes before levelling matters. Having peeled wide of his marker to receive Bonucci’s forward pass, Tevez let the ball run across his body before launching an unstoppable right-footed effort that rocketed across the goalkeeper and bounced in off the post to send Juventus Stadium into raptures.
And the capacity crowd was on its feet moments later as the Argentine went a whisker away from grabbing his second with a venomous shot that cannoned back off both uprights before trickling clear to safety.
But they were soon able to celebrate as the Bianconeri edged their noses in front three minutes into first-half injury time. Vidal provided the teasing cross from the right-hand side, and Llorente did the rest by glancing a perfectly-placed header past Rafeael to crown his Juventus Stadium debut in style.
The start of the second half paved the way for more of the same as Juventus swept forward with the aim of establishing a two-goal cushion. Andrea Pirlo went close to producing one of his trademark curling free-kicks on 62 minutes, with Rafael doing well to get across goal and fist the ball away from danger.
Yet for all his good work over the course of the afternoon, the Gialloblu goalkeeper could only stand and watch as Pogba sent Asamoah’s cut-back off the crossbar two minutes later.
As the second half wore on, Conte took the opportunity to hand substitute appearances to Claudio Marchisio, returning for his first taste of competitive action since sustaining a knee injury in August’s Super Cup triumph over Lazio, Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco.
The hosts’ dominance continued throughout as they comfortably kept possession and focus to see out any counter-attacking threat offered by the visitors before Bergonzi brought down the curtain on an entertaining 90 minutes of football.
Conte’s men will now look ahead to another clash with a Verona team - this time Chievo - as they bid to continue their unbeaten start to the season when they line up in Veneto on Wednesday night.