Juventus slipped to a 3-1 defeat against LA Galaxy in their second game of this summer’s Guinness International Champions Cup tournament at Los Angeles’ Dodgers Stadium.
The signs looked positive for Antonio Conte’s men after Alessandro Matri had conjured up an instant reply to Omar Gonzalez’s opener, but tired legs and crucial lapses in concentration enabled the hosts to regain their lead before putting the outcome behind doubt in the final stages.
Things did, however, start well for the Bianconeri, who began on the front foot and carved out two decent opportunities to edge their noses in front inside the opening four minutes.
Both chances fell to the feet of the returning Matri, who was inches away from turning Paolo De Ceglie’s inviting cross home after stealing a yard on his marker in the box.
Moments later, the frontman again went close, latching on to strike partner Fabio Quagliarella’s searching forward pass and prodding past Brian Rowe, only to see his effort roll narrowly past the upright.
Yet Galaxy, urged on from start to finish by a passionate home support, refused to roll over and began to ask some questions of the new-look Bianconeri rearguard.
Landon Donovoan, spearheading the hosts’ attack for the evening, broke through with nine minutes played, but found his low shot thwarted by the feet of Gigi Buffon.
Following Matri’s double effort in the early stages of the game, Quagliarella looked to emulate his partner first with a snap shot on the turn, pushed clear by Rowe, and then with a left-footed strike that skimmed across the face of goal.
An entertaining affair continued to unravel in front of a healthy crowd at the Dodgers Stadium, with the pendulum swinging back and forth as both sides sought to gain a foothold in the game.
But with the defences coming out on top so far, it was apparent a moment of genius would be required to break the deadlock. That stroke of inspiration was delivered by Brazilian playmaker Juninho, who saw his defence-splitting pass perfectly complimented by Omar Gonzalez’s fine finish over the onrushing Buffon on 36 minutes.
Three minutes later, Juventus were level. Quagliarella controlled De Ceglie’s neat centre into the box, and found Matri on hand to bundle the ball home after Rowe had pushed away his initial shot on the turn.
Conte rang the changes for the second half, handing first appearances of the season to Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio and Sebastian Giovinco, who were supported by the oncoming Marco Storari, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal and Fernando Llorente.
The fast and frantic introduction to the first half had given way to a more measured, tactical approach come the restart, with both teams cancelling each other out in the midfield battle.
This stalemate was broken on the hour mark, when Vidal’s stray pass was picked up by a lively Robbie Keane, who squared for Donovan to tap a simple finish into the back of the net.
Looking to replicate their instant first half response to falling a goal behind, Juventus pushed extra bodies forward and almost found themselves on level terms when Giovinco struck a free-kick that whistled fractionally over the crossbar on 67 minutes.
Now operating with a three-man striking trident following the introduction of Mirko Vucinic in place of Asamoah, the Bianconeri raised the tempo and fashioned two noteworthy chances for Llorente.
While the Spaniard may have felt he could have done better with Giovinco’s precise cutback from the byline, he will have no complaints about his execution of the second attempt, lashing a crisply-struck volley just wide of the upright after making a perfect connection with Vucinic’s dinked ball forward in the box.
But the Bianconeri’s attempted revival eventually proved in vain as Keane took advantage of another moment of hesitation to run through unopposed on goal before slotting home to round off a 3-1 victory for the Galaxy.
Juventus will now look to sign off on a winning note when they play the losers of Inter or Valencia at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday 6 August.
LA GALAXY 3-1 JUVENTUS
GOALS: Gonzalez 36, Matri 39, Donovan 60, Keane 89
Rowe; DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Leonardo, Dunivant (Franklin 66); Stephens (Zardes 66), Juninho (Garcia 82), Sarvas, Rogers (Lauren 82); Donovan (Jimenez 82), Villareal (Villareal 46).
Substitutes not used: Cudicini, Perk, Gaul, Meyer, Opare, Cochrane, Mastroeni, Clark, Walker, Sorto, Rugg, Hoffman, McBean.
Buffon (Storari 46); Caceres (Barzagli 46, Peluso 78), Bonucci (Chiellini 46), Ogbonna; Isla (Lichtsteiner 46), Padoin (Vidal 46), Marrone (Pirlo 46), Asamoah (Vucinic 70), De Ceglie (Marchisio 46); Quagliarella (Giovinco 46), Matri (Llorente 46).
Substitutes not used: Rubinho, Citti, Motta, Untersee, Pogba, Rossi, Buchel, Tevez.
ASSISTANTS: Ditmar, Duliba
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Radford