01.08.2013 07:58 - in: The team S

      Asamoah heroics not enough for winning start in USA

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      Antonio Conte’s men are defeated 6-5 on penalties in tonight's Guinness International Champions Cup opener against Everton. Kwadwo Asamoah’s magnificent strike earned a share of the spoils in 90 minutes after Kevin Mirallas had put the Toffees in front

      Juventus kicked off their Guinness International Champions Cup tournament with a 1-1 draw against English Premier League side Everton at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

      Despite deserving better following a bright second half display, Antonio Conte’s men were made to pay the penalty from 12 yards as misses from Andrea Pirlo and Federico Peluso enabled the Toffees to eventually emerge 6-5 winners on spot kicks.

      An evenly-matched opening 45 minutes paved the way for an attacking second half with chances at both ends. Kevin Mirallas put Roberto Martinez’s side in front on 61 minutes, before Kwadwo Asamoah’s magnificent rocket from range levelled matters.

      Both teams played out a fairly cagey opening period of play as they jostled to gain control of the midfield battle. On six minutes, Everton defender Phil Jagielka had a goal correctly chalked off for offside after stealing a yard on his marker following Steven Pienaar’s delivery into the box.

      As the half wore on, Juventus began to enjoy increased time in opposition territory, with Kwadwo Asamoah in particular providing a decent outlet with his bursting forays forward from midfield.

      Luca Marrone was the first player to test Tim Howard on 17 minutes, rifling in a shot from 25 yards which was gathered by the goalkeeper at his far post. Seven minutes later, it was Pienaar’s turn to try his luck on goal, with the South African midfielder looping a curled effort over the crossbar.   

      With the game beginning to open up, Marrone again went close to breaking the deadlock. Carlos Tevez showed good vision to supply the cross, only for the Bianconeri midfielder to miscue his volleyed attempt after cleverly peeling away from his marker at the far post.

      Tevez, on corner duty for the evening, almost had a hand in Juventus taking the lead when his delivery was headed out of the area by Victor Anichebe. It appeared the Nigerian forward had done enough to clear the danger, but Arturo Vidal responded with a left-footed volley that brought the crowd to their feet as it flashed just wide of the upright.

      The upright was again involved moments before half-time, with Everton left to rue their misfortune after John Stones connected with a free-kick from the left-hand side that cannoned back off the post.

      Juventus raised the tempo at the start of the second half and began to commit bodies further forward in their search for an opener. This increased pressure almost paid instant dividends when Peluso connected with Mauricio Isla’s cross on 48 minutes, looping his header narrowly over the crossbar.

      With Conte’s men edging increasingly into enemy territory, Everton seized the opportunity to hit back on the counter, and were only prevented from breaking the deadlock by the sharp reflexes of Marco Storari, who foiled Kevin Mirallas from close range.

      On 57 minutes, Arturo Vidal drew a fine save from Howard when his free-kick from outside the area was palmed clear to safety by the American international shotstopper.

      But moments later Juventus were made to pay the price for a momentary lapse in concentration which allowed Mirallas to break down the left before cutting inside and firing past Storari at his near post.

      A magnificent flowing move involving Asamoah, Vidal, Isla and Fernando Llorente almost set Vidal up with a clear goalscoring opportunity on 68 minutes, only for Howard to dash off his line and smother before the Chilean was able to make a clean contact.

      With the Bianconeri now in full flow and Tevez gaining increased space to express himself in the final third, the Argentine elected to take matters into his own hands, firing in a shot which flashed just wide of the post.

      Having freshened things up with the introductions of Mirko Vucinic, Simone Padoin and Andrea Pirlo with 20 minutes remaining, Juventus were only prevented from restoring parity by the heroics of Howard in the Everton goal.  

      First, the Toffees’ custodian dived low to his left to thwart Tevez’s shot that drifted menacingly towards the bottom corner. Then, he pulled off a miraculous stop to deny Vucinic when the forward appeared odds on to score.

      But it proved to be third time lucky for the Bianconeri when Asamoah pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the area and found the corner with a left-footed piledriver that left the seemingly unbeatable Howard rooted to the spot.

      Despite a frantic finale in which both teams went close to nicking a winner, Ricardo Salazar’s final whistle brought an end to an entertaining second half, leaving the final outcome to the lottery of spot kicks.

      Everton prevailed with a 6-5 triumph, meaning Juventus’ Guinness International Champions Cup experience will continue in Los Angeles against the losers of tomorrow’s clash between L.A. Galaxy and Real Madrid.


      JUVENTUS 1-1 EVERTON (5-6 on penalties)

      GOALS: Mirallas 61, Asamoah 80

      Penalties: Osman saved, Matri scored, Barkley scored, Asamoah scored, Mirallas scored, Vucinic scored, Jagielka scored, Vidal scored, Oviedo scored, Pirlo missed, Stones scored, Motta scored, Coleman scored, Peluso saved


      Storari; Lichtsteiner, Ogbonna, Peluso; Isla (Motta 84), Vidal, Marrone (Pirlo 72), Asamoah, De Ceglie (Padoin 72); Tevez (Matri 84), Llorente (Vucinic 72)
      Substitutes not used: Rubinho, Chiellini, Caceres, Marchisio, Rossi, Bonucci, Quagliarella, Buchel, Untersee
      Manager: Conte


      Howard; Stones, Jagielka, Distin; Coleman, Gibson (Osman 63), Fellaini, Baines (Oviedo 63); Pienaar, Anichebe (Barkley 88), Mirallas
      Substitutes not used: Robles, Hibbert, Jelavic, Deulofeu, Naismith
      Manager: Martinez

      REFEREE: Salazar

      ASSISTANTS: Rottersman, Jallow

      FOURTH OFFICIAL: Mariscal

      BOOKED: Peluso 41, Ogbonna 84

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