01 October 2017
Juventus dropped their first points of the Serie A season on Sunday night, as Atalanta clawed their way back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.
Federico Bernardeschi – making his first Bianconeri start – and Gonzalo Higuain had handed Juve a two-goal lead by the 24th minute, but the hosts hit back through Mattia Caldara and Bryan Cristante to level the scores before Paulo Dybala had a penalty saved late on.
Bergamo has built a reputation for being a difficult place to go in recent times and the match typically began with some hard tackling and toughly-contested 50-50 challenges.
Nevertheless, the Bianconeri asserted themselves quickly with Bernardeschi, Dybala and Higuain all having shots within the first quarter of an hour and it would only be a matter of time before Juve made their chances count
In the 21st minute Bernardeschi graced his maiden start for La Vecchia Signora with the game’s first goal. The forward reacted quickest in the box after Etrit Berisha had parried Blaise Matuidi’s shot, taking full advantage of the loose ball with a low finish past the Albanian keeper.
Just three minutes later, the Bianconeri doubled their lead when Higuain collected Bernardeschi’s pass before blasting past Berisha and into the top corner – this Pipita’s second strike in as many games after scoring in midweek against Olympiacos.
Atalanta’s reaction however to going two goals down was an extremely impressive one. Alejandro Gomez won a free-kick on the edge of the area and the Argentine’s set-piece was whipped in crisply towards the bottom corner, with Gianluigi Buffon unable to push the ball to safety as Caldara tucked home on the rebound.
Juve came out for the second half with their tails up and eager to re-establish their two-goal advantage. They very nearly did so in the 57th minute when Mario Mandzukic saw a headed finish chalked off after referee Antonio Damato consulted VAR and adjudged Stephan Lichtsteiner to have committed a foul in the build-up.
This proved to be a big moment in the match, as Atalanta, buoyed by the decision, would find an equaliser just 10 minutes later when Cristante sent a thumping header past Buffon after connecting brilliantly with Gomez’ cross from the left.
Massimiliano Allegri reacted to the setback by bringing on Juan Cuadrado and Douglas Costa for Bernardeschi and Mandzukic respectively in a bid to inject new energy into Juve’s attacking play, and the visitors should have taken the lead with seven minutes of regulation time remaining.
After consulting VAR once again, Damato pointed to the spot after Andrea Petagna caught Dybala’s free-kick with his arm, but Berisha dived low to his left to prevent La Joya from scoring what could have been an invaluable match-winner.
The Bianconeri will look to return to winning ways after the imminent international break when they host Lazio at Allianz Stadium on Saturday 14 October.