30.08.2014 20:20 - in: Serie A S

      Bianconeri claim opening day win over Chievo

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      An early Cristiano Biraghi own goal enables the reigning champions to commence their Scudetto defence with a fully deserved three points in Verona

      A seventh-minute Cristiano Biraghi own goal ensured the Bianconeri got their title defence off to a winning start with this evening’s 1-0 success over Chievo in Verona.

      The opening day triumph was no less than the reigning champions deserved after laying siege to Francesco Bardi’s goal over the course of an energetic 90 minutes at the Bentegodi.

      Massimiliano Allegri’s men were dominant from start to finish and were unlucky not to extend their lead after the South American trio of Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez and Martin Caceres each saw efforts bounce back off the woodwork.  

      The Bianconeri burst out of the blocks at an electrifying pace and after Carlos Tevez and Kingsley Coman saw efforts drop just wide of the target, Martin Caceres pounced at the back post to put them into a deserved lead with a header that bounced off Cristiano Biraghi before rolling over the line on five minutes.

      In spite of the hosts' attempts to produce an instant response through a Maxi Lopez effort which rose over the bar, it was the Bianconeri’s verve and energy that continued to cause problems for those in yellow, who found themselves with little answer to wave after wave of attacks.

      This retreat deep into their own territory allowed Claudio Marchisio, operating in Andrea Pirlo’s customary role in front of the back three, the prospect to venture further forward and almost double the lead on 11 minutes courtesy of a fierce effort that cleared the crossbar.

      Going even closer five minutes later was Arturo Vidal, who was unlucky to see his diving header bounce off the post after shaking off his marker to connect with Tevez’s outswinging corner.

      The Argentine’s strike partner, Kingsley Coman, represented a constant threat for the Chievo rearguard on his first Serie A appearance and he almost capped off a first-half full of trickery and guile with a fine shot that drew Bardi into a diving save.

      As Juventus cranked up the pressure in the final five minutes of the first half, the Gialloblu had the crossbar come to their rescue twice in quick succession as first Tevez and then Caceres went agonisingly close to establishing a two-goal cushion.

      Beginning the second half in the same vein as the first, Allegri’s men kept their foot on the accelerator and continued to seek out the fleet-footed movements of Coman.

      Frequently dropping deep to perfection, he curled a shot fractionally wide on 46 minutes before seeing a brilliant header rise inches over the top after making an expert connection with Vidal’s teasing delivery into the box just past the hour mark.  

      With 20 minutes remaining, Allegri elected to introduce Llorente to the action in a move which saw Coman sportingly applauded from the field by both home and away supporters at the Bentegodi.

      The Spaniard, named on the bench after suffering a bout of flu in midweek, almost made an instant impact on proceedings when he headed Lichtsteiner’s cross towards goal, only for Bardi to prove equal to it with a diving save.

      While the one-way traffic continued to flow firmly in Chievo’s direction, Juventus did have Gigi Buffon to thank for a stunning stop from point blank range which prevented Maxi Lopez equalising against the run of play.

      But there was to be no late twist in the tale as the visitors held on for a fully deserved victory, Massimiliano Allegri’s 101th in Italy’s top flight.

      The Bianconeri will now prepare to link up with their respective international sides over the next fortnight before returning to work towards the visit of Udinese, this season’s highly-anticipated first fixture at Juventus Stadium.

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