Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Empoli 1 Juventus 3: Evra helps champions banish away-day blues

SoccerNews in Serie A 8 Nov 2015


Defender Patrice Evra netted a rare goal to help Juventus come from behind to defeat Empoli 3-1 as the reigning Serie A champions claimed a first win in five away games in all competitions. 

Juve were forced to dig deep when Massimo Maccarone looked dangerous for the hosts right from the start and gifted his side a surprise lead halfway through the first half.

Mario Mandzukic restored parity at the half-hour mark, though, before Evra headed home his first goal since last December. 

Paulo Dybala punished wasteful Empoli with Juve’s third six minutes from time as Massimiliano Allegri’s men secured back-to-back league victories for the first time this season, although they still trail leaders Inter by nine points.

The Turin side first threatened after 15 minutes when Paul Pogba tried his luck with an ambitious volley from outside the area that was too high.

Mandzukic should have opened the scoring barely 60 seconds later after a perfect cross from Juan Cuadrado, yet the former Bayern Munich forward failed to properly connect and tapped his shot just wide from close range.

Empoli proved to be more clinical in front of goal and broke the deadlock after 19 minutes. Riccardo Saponara intercepted Leonardo Bonucci’s poor pass from the back and Maccarone collected the loose ball on the edge of the area before beating Gianluigi Buffon with a low shot.

Saponara will feel he could have done better when he evaded a number of opposition players, but his shot from 20 yards lacked the power and precision to worry Buffon.

Juventus restored parity just after the half-hour mark following some unconvincing Empoli defending. Sami Khedira won a header to set up Mandzukic and the striker slid the ball past goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski.

Evra then gifted the reigning champions the lead after 38 minutes. Cuadrado curled in a corner from the right and the former Manchester United defender beat his marker to the ball before heading home.

Maccarone came close to netting an equaliser on the stroke of half-time following some fine work from Saponara, but his shot from the right-hand side of the area went inches wide at the far post.

The veteran striker had a great chance to make it 2-2 shortly after the break following a superb free-kick from Leandro Paredes, yet Maccarone aimed wide from just five yards out.

Juventus were again fortunate not to concede a second goal at the hour mark. Maccarone sent in a dangerous free-kick from the edge of the box and Mandzukic nearly beat his own goalkeeper with his attempted clearance.

Allegri’s side looked dangerous again with 20 minutes left, but Pogba blasted his shot over after cutting inside from the left.

A third Juve goal did arrive late on. Mandzukic hit the upright after Skorupski had kept out Stephan Lichtsteiner’s initial attempt, but Dybala was alert to tap home the rebound.


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