16 February 2023
Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by Nantes in the first leg of the Europa League play-offs. Dušan Vlahović, Federico Chiesa and Ángel Di María were fielded in attack from kick-off and combined for the game's opening goal. On the hour the visitors equalised through Ludovic Blas.
The Bianconeri struck the crossbar twice as they sought to restore their advantage.
Juventus started sprightly and the front three created the first danger for the visiting defence. Ángel Di María let fly from the edge of the area, stinging the gloves of Alban Lafont.
The Nantes goalkeeper had no chance just over 10 minutes later, when the front three linked up to perfection. A defence-splitting pass from Di María picked out the run of Federico Chiesa, who from the edge of the six-yard box headed across the face of goal. Rushing in to tap home was Dušan Vlahović, who spun away to celebrate with Chiesa. It was the first time that two had directly combined for a Juve goal.
With the five players across the back, supported by three in midfield, Nantes were set up to frustrate Juve, but the Bianconeri were moving the ball quickly, using both flanks, and at the heart of it all was Di María.
And it was El Fideo that came close to adding a second on 28 minutes. Another dipping shot from the edge of the area was once again dealt with by Lafont with a spectacular one-handed save.
Three minutes later the Nantes keeper was called onto save his team once more. Alex Sandro sought Vlahović inside the penalty area. Aware of the danger Andrei Girotto stretched to reach the cross, almost turning the ball into his own net. Lafont did enough to touch the ball away.
Lafont was last called on by Juve in the first half when a Leandro Paredes free-kick in stoppage time saw the former Fiorentina shot stopper opt once more for his favoured punch clearance.
The second half started in the same manner as the first, with a shot from El Fideo saved by Lafont.
On the hour Di María had the ball at his feet again in a shooting position but delayed allowing the defence to close him down. Nantes then set off on the counter attack. Three passes later Ludovic Blas found himself one on one with Wojciech Szczęsny. The Canaries forward lashed the ball into the top of the net for the equaliser.
Juve’s response was immediate, but unfortunate.
Just one minute later Vlahović fed Chiesa and when the number 7 went for goal, he saw his shot first hit the crossbar, bounce on the line before striking the far post to safety.
Two minutes later a corner from Di María flew over the head of Lafont but once again the frame of the goal stood between Juve and their retaking the lead.
Juve were kept at a safe distance by their French opponents until stoppage time drama.
First Danilo flashed a volley over the bar from close range then in the fifth minute of time added on, Bremer headed over from a metre out. The referee was called on to study the moment by VAR however. The match official interpreted the incident in favour of Nantes, indicating that a push by Bremer on his marker caused the same player to strike the ball with his hand.
The outcome was no penalty.
The scoreline remained 1-1, leaving Juventus needing victory in the second leg to progress to the knock-out stage proper.
JUVENTUS 1-1 NANTES
Scorers: 13' Vlahović, 60' Blas
Juventus: Szczęsny; De Sciglio (73' Cuadrado), Danilo, Bremer, Alex Sandro; Fagioli (63' Kostić), Paredes (63' Locatelli), Rabiot; Di Maria (73' Soulé), Vlahović (86' Kean), Chiesa. Subs not used: Pinsoglio, Crespi, Gatti, Bonucci, Rugani, Iling-Junior. Coach: Allegri.
Nantes: Lafont; Centonze, Castelletto (88' Guessand), Girotto, Pallois (83' Corchia), Coco (77' Traore); Moutoussamy, Chirivella (77' Mollet), Sissoko; Blas, Mohamed (77' Simon). Subs not used: Descamps, Petrič, Doucet, Diaz. Coach: Kombouaré.
Refreee: Pinheiro (POR)
Bookings: 45'+1' Castelletto, 54' Chiesa, 57' Mohamed, 75' Danilo, 90' Corchia