Mandzukic hands Juve last-gasp victory in Poland

Mandzukic hands Juve last-gasp victory in Poland
Mandzukic hands Juve last-gasp victory in Poland
Mandzukic hands Juve last-gasp victory in Poland

Mario Mandzukic’s last-minute strike sealed a 2-1 victory for the Bianconeri after a close contest at Lechia Gdansk’s PGE Arena this evening.

The Bianconeri got off to the dream start, as Paul Pogba met Paulo Dybala’s whipped corner with an accomplished header into the bottom corner after just four minutes. The goal would be enough to see Juventus go into half-time with a deserved lead, despite riding their luck when the post denied their hosts an equaliser just before the break.


As against Dortmund, Massimiliano Allegri used the second period to test a number of youngsters, while his opposite number Jerzy Breczek brought on several first-team regulars, changing the dynamics of the encounter.

Adam Buksa’s late strike put Lechia on level terms and it looked like it would end that way before Mandzukic spoiled the party with a close-range, clinical finish on 90 minutes.

The Green and Whites, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, were enjoying decent possession in advanced areas before Allegri’s men opened the scoring with the game’s first effort on target.

Dybala, who had already proved dangerous from dead ball situations against Dortmund, swung in the corner kick and Pogba did the rest. Evading his marker with ease, the Frenchman executed his header to perfection, nodding low and hard to Lukasz Budzilek’s right.

Just moments later, Dybala was again at the centre of Juve’s next best chance to double the scoring. The Argentine showed great vision to chip an exquisite through ball to Simone Zaza, but his strike partner could not keep the resulting shot down, losing his balance at the time of connecting with the ball.

Allegri was forced into his first change of the match in only the eighth minute, replacing Giorgio Chiellini with Martin Caceres.

At this point, however, the Bianconeri had eased themselves into the match, keeping hold of possession with some pinpoint passing. Dybala continued to spread the ball around with skill, successfully finding Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right flank, but the Swiss’ centre was intercepted by Lechia’s rearguard.

With 21 minutes played, Budzilek was forced into his first save of the match from a thunderous Pogba strike on the edge of the 18-yard box and the Pole needed to be at hand again moments later. Stefano Sturaro’s deft ball forwards was scuffed into Dybala’s path by a surprised Rudinilson Silva, but the former Palermo man was forced wide and Lechia’s keeper was equal to the final effort.

Having been without the ball for large periods of the half, the Green and Whites finally managed to engineer a couple of openings on Gigi Buffon’s goal. After Adam Dzwigala’s long-range effort sailed narrowly wide, the same man would go even closer on 39 minutes, scraping the post from a corner.

Surviving what was without doubt their largest scare of the half, the Bianconeri entered the changing rooms at the break with a deserved 1-0 lead.

The second period sparked into life on 49 minutes as a teasing cross from substitute Patrice Evra caused confusion in Lechia’s ranks, almost leading to an own-goal but for the sharp reflexes of substitute goalkeeper Mateusz Bak.

Down the other end, however, Neto would be called into action on a couple of occasions, blocking a pair of fierce drives from Michal Mak and Maciej Makuszewski respectively.

As Allegri handed further first-team opportunities to several members of Juventus’ youth academy, Alberto Cerri appeared most intent on taking his. On 73 minutes, the 19-year-old former Parma man weaved his way past Lechia’s defence before unleashing a venomous strike, well smothered by Bak.

Breczek, on the other hand, was bringing on several first-team regulars, who had started to make their presence felt. The changes in personnel would ultimately impact on the scoreline. On 82 minutes Adam Buksa combined smartly with Bruno Nazario, before slotting home a cool equaliser past the increasingly busy Neto.

Just as it looked like the teams would be sharing the spoils, Mandzukic would have the last word in a frenzied final flurry to the contest. Latching onto an accurate ball from Roman Macek, the Croatian did well to roll his marker before prodding past Bak.

Allegri’s men will look to build on their first success of pre-season when they travel to France for their final workout ahead of next weekend’s Super Cup final, Olympique de Marseilles providing the opposition on Saturday evening.

Juventus: Buffon (Neto 57), Rugani, Bonucci (Clemenza 45), Chiellini (Caceres 9, Parodi 66), Lichtsteiner (Evra 45), Sturaro (Tello 75), Pogba (Marchisio 45), Padoin (Macek 83), Khedira (Vitale 64), Dybala (Morata 45, Cerri 71), Zaza (Mandzukic 45)

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