Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Genoa 0 Juventus 2: Fit-again Pogba inspires champions

SoccerNews in Serie A 20 Sep 2015

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Paul Pogba returned to fitness just in time to inspire Juventus to their first Serie A win of the season as they ran out 2-0 winners against 10-man Genoa.

The France international recovered from a bout of flu shortly before the game and had a hand in the first goal before scoring Juventus’ second to make it two wins in a week for Massimiliano Allegri’s men.

Pogba crashed a shot onto the crossbar that hit goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna and bounced into the net in the first half, and he grabbed his first goal of the season from the penalty spot on the hour mark.

Genoa, who had Armando Izzo sent off for two bookable first-half offences, endured a calamitous afternoon as they suffered their first home defeat of the season against the champions.

The game turned on key decisions by referee Paolo Valeri, and Genoa coach Gian Piero Gasperini may feel hard done by after his side were left with nothing for their efforts. 

Allegri, meanwhile, was left with injury concerns after Alvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic both limped off.

Following their Champions League victory over Manchester City, Juventus were keen to inject some impetus into their Serie A campaign, which had seen them claim just one point from a possible nine.

Morata thumped a half-volley into the arms of Lamanna after just two minutes as the champions started with real intent, but Genoa quickly rallied and began to press the visitors.

Pogba was caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area, allowing Diego Perotti to tee up Diego Capel for a header that flew narrowly over the crossbar.

Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado began to create space with incisive runs and neat link-up play, but Juventus showed signs that they lack a target in the final third in the absence of Carlos Tevez, who left for Boca Juniors during the close-season.

Morata limped off with a groin injury after 22 minutes and Genoa began to look the more likely side to make a breakthrough, with Blerim Dzemaili whipping a free-kick narrowly wide.

But Juventus took the lead when Morata’s replacement Roberto Pereyra flashed the ball across the face of goal, where Pogba was sliding in, and the France midfielder’s shot struck the crossbar before bouncing down and into the net off the thighs of the hapless Lamanna.

Genoa might have hoped to regroup at half-time, but Gasperini’s plans suffered a hammer blow when Izzo was sent off for a second bookable offence after he was judged to have pulled back Cuadrado.

The hosts reorganised and battled hard to make the second half competitive, but extra space and a man advantage allowed Pereyra and Cuadrado to stretch their patched-up defence.

Disaster struck again for Genoa when Giorgio Chiellini was judged to have been fouled as he came together with Mario Lemina and referee Valeri pointed to the penalty spot.

Pogba coolly slotted the penalty low into the corner of the net for his first goal of the season, while Genoa were left stunned, 2-0 down and reduced to 10 men, despite having made few mistakes and matching their opponents for much of the game. 

But they mustered little more as Juventus coasted to victory in the end.

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