Juventus’ first Boxing Day match did not go as their players and fans would have hoped, with the team dropping points for only the second time this season, away at Atalanta. However, the point can be viewed as a well-earned one, with the away side trailing in the second half and down to ten men following Rodrigo Bentancur’s red card. Another positive for Massimiliano Allegri’s side is that they end 2018 with no defeats away from home.
Juventus held in Bergamo on Boxing Day
ATALANTA FIND THE NET AT BOTH ENDS
Juventus could not have wished for a better start, as a freakish own goal from Berat Djimsiti gave them an early advantage. With just two minutes played, the defender sliced the ball past his own keeper as he tried to clear Alex Sandro’s cross into the box. Rodrigo Bentancur was unlucky not to double Juve’s lead after 8 minutes. Teed up by Paulo Dybala, the Uruguayan’s shot was well-saved by Etrit Berisha, who tipped the ball onto the bar. The hosts grew into the contest and hauled themselves level with 24 minutes on the clock. Duvan Zapata collected the ball, showing his strength to free himself from Leonardo Bonucci before firing a left-foot shot into the corner. The first half was a toughly contested, open encounter though neither keeper was forced into too much work.
JUVE DOWN TO TEN, HOSTS TAKE THE LEAD
The away side were dealt a hammer blow at the start of the second period, as Bentancur picked up a second yellow card for a trip on Timothy Castagne and was given his marching orders on 53 minutes. With Juve down to ten men, Atalanta appeared buoyed by their numerical advantage and got their noses in front just minutes later. Off the back of a corner, Zapata ghosted in behind Emre Can to head past Wojciech Szczesny and put the Bergamaschi 2-1 up.
Massimiliano Allegri reacted to his side falling behind by sending on Miralem Pjanic and Cristiano Ronaldo in place of Douglas Costa and Sami Khedira. The Bianconeri pushed forward in search of an equaliser and with time their numerical disadvantage no longer showed, though they could be thankful Robin Gosens failed to hit the target on 77 minutes, having been found with time in the box after Castagne’s deflected cross. It was a miss that proved all the more significant as Juve netted an equaliser just moments later. Mario Mandzukic headed Pjanic’s corner into the path of Ronaldo, who was able to head home from within the six-yard box. In stoppage time Bonucci thought he had secured all three points for the Bianconeri, tapping Alex Sandro’s flick-on into the goal, but the effort was rightly ruled out for offside. Nonetheless, 2-2 was a fair result on the balance of play, though Juve will feel the outcome could well have been different had they not been reduced to ten men so early in the second period.
ATALANTA 2-2 JUVENTUS (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Djimsiti (OG) 2, Zapata 24, 55, Ronaldo 78.
Berisha; Mancini, Djimsiti, Masiello (Barrow 85); Hateboer, Pasalic (Gosens 67), Freuler, Castagne; Gomez; Ilicic (Pessina 77), Zapata.
Subs not used: Gollini, Rossi, Valzania, Del Prato, Okoli, Peli, Reca, Kulusevski, Tumminello.
Szczesny; De Sciglio, Bonucci, Chiellini Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Emre Can, Khedira (Ronaldo 65); Dybala, Mandzukic, Douglas Costa (Pjanic 57).
Subs not used: Perin, Pinsoglio, Benatia, Rugani, Spinazzola, Kastanos.
ASSISTANTS: Carbone, Ranghetti.
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Aureliano.
VAR: Calvarese, Vuoto.
YELLOW CARDS: Bentancur 18, Zapata 29, Mancini 32, Chiellini 38, Bentancur 53, Hateboer 60, Mandzukic 63, Freuler 90.
RED CARD: Bentancur 53.