23.08.2015 20:24 - in: Match report S

      Udinese take spoils at Juventus Stadium

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      Cyril Thereau earns Stefano Colantuono’s men a late winner in the opening match of the 2015/16 season at Juventus Stadium

      Udinese took all three points in the opening match of the 2015/16 season at Juventus Stadium after Cyril Thereau’s 78th minute strike proved the difference in an encounter the hosts were often in control of.

      The Bianconeri opened the match strongly, knocking the ball around at will and with accuracy, completing 83 per cent of their passes, while they also enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession.

      Massimiliano Allegri’s men would also create the better of the chances in the first half, Roberto Pereyra and Stephan Lichsteiner both drawing decent saves out of Zebrette goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, but they were unable to find the breakthrough as the two sides entered half-time on level terms.

      After the break, Juventus pushed with greater vigour for an opener, their best chance falling to Mario Mandzukic, but the striker was unable to find a goal on his Serie A debut.

      Having soaked up plenty of pressure for prolonged spells of the match, Udinese took an unlikely lead in the 78th minute, Cyril Thereau prodding home from close range, capping off a rapid counter-attack that had taken the home side and crowd unawares.

      The goal sparked a mini-reaction from the Bianconeri, but it would prove to be the winner as the visitors held on to claim their first victory over Juventus in five seasons.

      The hosts launched their first meaningful attack in the fifth minute when Pereyra burst through the middle, feeding Mario Mandzukic on the right, but the Croatian’s teasing ball across the box just eluded Kingsley Coman in the middle.

      The two teams, both lining up as a 3-5-2, were cancelling each other out in midfield before Pereyra set off on another forward foray, drawing a foul and first card of the game out of Ivan Piris. Leonardo Bonucci took the resulting free-kick that was well blocked by the opponents’ defensive wall.

      By the 20th minute Juventus began to knock on the door with greater frequency, as Lichtsteiner hit just wide from an acute angle, while Karnezis was called upon to block a Pereyra effort after smart dribbling from Coman.

      Moments later the Frenchman could not direct his header on target after beating his marker to a whipped cross from Patrice Evra.

      Udinese would finally have their first shot of the match in the 28th minute, when Altameeni Ali Adnan weaved his way through the home defence to try his luck from a wide left position, but failed to trouble Gianluigi Buffon.

      Back up the other end, Karnezis had to punch away a stinging Lichtsteiner drive after being teed up by the lively Pereyra.

      The Swiss Express then nearly turned provider, tricking his way past Ali Adnan by the corner flag before sending a pinpoint ball into the box, but Mandzukic could not keep his header down in what was the final chance of the first half.

      As the two sides settled into the second period, Paul Pogba tried his luck from range with a first-time strike on the half volley that sailed just wide of the mark.

      Karnezis would be called into action again soon after, getting his gloves to a wickedly deflected Simone Padoin cross, as the Bianconeri pushed determinedly to find the opener.

      Coman and Mandzukic linked up twice in quick succession, the Croatian’s initial knockdown cleared by Udinese’s rearguard, while his second attempt found Padoin in the box, who brought yet another save out of the visitors’ Greek stopper.

      In the 62nd minute Mandzukic found himself in front of goal once again, but the striker never had complete control of the ball and Colantuono’s men survived a major scare.

      With their backs against the wall, Udinese capped off a clinical counter-attack in the 78th minute. Panagiotis Kone’s accurate delivery found Thereau on the edge of the six-yard box. Having peeled away from his marker, the Frenchman made no mistake and gave his team a lead that had long looked unlikely.

      Trailing a game they had looked more likely to win themselves, Allegri’s men pushed more urgently than ever for an equaliser, but they were unable to test Karnezis in the closing stages, as the Zebrette held firm to claim maximum points.

      While Allegri can look on positive aspects of a match Juventus long controlled, he will be keen for a more clinical display in the final third when his charges take on Roma next Sunday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.


      Goals: Thereau 78

      Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner (Isla 81), Pereyra (Llorente 79), Padoin, Pogba, Evra; Coman (Dybala 64), Mandzukic,.
      Substitutes: Neto, Rubinho, Alex Sandro, Caceres, Vitale, Rugani, Sturaro, Zaza.
      Coach: Allegri

      Karnezis; Heurtaux, Danilo, Piris; Edenilson, Bruno Fernandes, Iturra, Badu (Kone 53), Adnan (Widmer 86); Thereau, Di Natale (Zapata 66).
      Substitutes: Meret, Perisan, Domizzi, Neuton, Pasquale, Merkel, Pinzi, Perica, Aguirre.
      Coach: Colantuono

      Referee: Mazzoleni
      Assistant referees: De Luca, Paganessi
      Fourth official: Crispo
      Goal-line officials: Di Bello, Nasca

      Bookings: Piris, Heurtaux, Padoin, Adnan

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