23.09.2015 23:10 - in: Match report S

      Juve held by late Frosinone leveller

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      Leonardo Blanchard’s injury-time equaliser cancels out Simone Zaza’s first goal for the Bianconeri, holding the hosts to a 1-1 draw at Juventus Stadium this evening

      Leonardo Blanchard’s stoppage time equaliser held the Bianconeri to a 1-1 draw at Juventus Stadium after Simone Zaza’s 50th minute opener, his first goal for his new club, had looked like steering Massimiliano Allegri’s men to a third straight victory in all competitions this evening.

      Lining up in the 4-3-3 formation that had accompanied recent victories in Manchester and Genoa, Juventus started brightly and quickly produced a number of goalscoring opportunities.

      However, for all the hosts’ possession (65 per cent) and shots (13 to Frosinone’s five) in a dominant first-half display, they were unable to force opposing goalkeeper and Bianconeri loanee Nicola Leali into a single save, Paul Pogba coming closest of all with a 41st minute header which struck the crossbar.

      Just five minutes of the second period would be required, however, for Massimiliano Allegri’s men to take a deserved lead, when Zaza drilled in with the help of a deflection off Leonardo Blanchard.

      From that point onwards, Juventus consistently knocked on the door in a bid to double their lead, hitting the target a further six times, but found Leali in splendid form, as the 22-year-old kept out a string of shots that would ultimately prove crucial in the visitors’ mission to take something from a match in which they had their backs to the walls for long spells.

      And Blanchard was right on cue in the second minute of injury time to nod in from a corner, handing Roberto Stellone’s men their very first point of the season and in the club’s Serie A history.

      In a lively start to the encounter, Juan Cuadrado was his usual busy self, firstly feeding the ball nicely to Stephan Lichtsteiner in the box, whose cross was well cleared before it could reach Zaza, the striker making his first start for the Bianconeri.

      In the 12th minute the Colombian then capitalised on Blanchard’s error to run in on goal, but was dispossessed just before he could pull the trigger.

      Moments after a fine effort from Paul Pogba that just curled over the crossbar, Juve’s tricky wide man again came closest to breaking the deadlock with a powerful shot from 20 yards that clipped the side netting.

      And Leali’s net was leading an even more charmed life than ever when Zaza’s bicycle kick from Roberto Pereyra’s pinpoint cross sailed just wide.

      The hosts were almost made to pay for their failure to cash in on their dominance, when on the half-hour mark Nicolas Castillo struck Neto’s upright, the Brazilian also making his debut in the black and white.

      Down the other end of the pitch, Alex Sandro, a constant threat on the left byline, swung in a cross for Stefano Sturaro, but the midfielder could not keep his header down.

      On 41 minutes, it was Juve loanee Leali’s goal-frame that was left reverberating when Pogba leapt highest to meet Pereyra’s inswinger, but the Frenchman was unlucky to find the underside of the bar.

      For the start of the second period, Allegri introduced Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini for Sturaro and Lichtsteiner respectively, the latter set for medical checks after complaining of breathing difficulties during the interval.

      Dybala, on the other hand, took only two minutes to force Leali into his first save of the match with a stinging shot from outside the box.

      With the hosts firmly on the front foot, Zaza stepped up his search for a maiden Bianconeri goal, which might easily have arrived in the 48th minute when his looping header struck the crossbar.

      Just two minutes later, however, the striker rifled in with the aid of a Blanchard deflection to open his account for his new club.

      Chances to double the lead would not be in short supply. Leali was at hand to prevent Zaza adding a second to his personal tally before Cuadrado fired narrowly wide from distance.

      And the 22-year-old keeper, bought by Juventus in 2012, demonstrated his impressive shot-stopping qualities with another block on Leonardo Bonucci’s rasping drive.

      Another defender too might have found the net, Chiellini misdirecting his header from a wonderful Bonucci cross moments, with Pereyra curling fractionally wide moments later.

      The missed opportunities would however come back to haunt the hosts when Blanchard more than made amends for his unfortunate role in Zaza’s opener, rising highest at a corner to notch only his side’s second goal of the season, as they claimed their first point of 2015/16.

      Juventus return to league action on Saturday evening with a trip to Napoli, where Allegri will hope for a more clinical performance in the final third from his charges.

      Neto; Lichtsteiner (Chiellini 45), Bonucci, Barzagli, Alex Sandro; Sturaro
      (Dybala 45), Lemina, Pogba; Cuadrado, Zaza (Hernanes 77), Pereyra.
      A disposizione: Buffon, Audero, Rugani, Evra, Padoin, Favilli.
      Manager: Allegri

      Leali; M. Ciofani (Rosi 83), Diakité, Blanchard, Crivello; Frara, Gori,
      Chibsah (Tonev 71), Soddimo; D. Ciofani, Castillo (Dionisi 85).
      A disposizione: Zappino, Gomis, Verde, Pavlovic, Russo, Bertoncini,
      Paganini, Sammarco, Carlini.
      Manager: Stellone

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