Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Verona 2 Juventus 1: Toni downs champions on farewell game

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 8 May 2016

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Luca Toni scored on his final professional appearance to help Verona to a 2-1 Serie A win over Juventus at the Bentegodi, ending the champions’ 26-game unbeaten run.

An astonishing run of 25 wins in 26 outings had led Massimiliano Allegri’s men to a fifth straight Scudetto, but they were unable to cope with the 38-year-old Toni on Sunday.

The World Cup-winning striker announced this week that he would bow out after this game and he capped it in style, opening the scoring with a cheeky penalty just before the interval.

Toni then also started the move that led to rock-bottom and relegated Verona’s second goal, with Federico Viviani eventually finding the net.

Juventus – without a host of key players, including Mario Mandzukic, Paul Pogba, Alvaro Morata and Gianluigi Buffon – scored with the last kick of the game, a Dybala penalty.

But that only came after Alex Sandro’s stoppage-time red card as Allegri was left to lament a poor showing immediately after extending his contract with the champions.

Verona did well to contain the Juventus attackers early on and they got the first chance of a tense match when Luca Marrone fired straight at goalkeeper Neto from the edge of the area and Toni hit the post following fine work from Luca Siligardi down the left. 

Dybala should have put Juventus ahead shortly before the interval after dancing through the home defence, but the Argentina international aimed inches wide with only Verona goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini to beat. 

And Toni got his goal in the 43rd minute when he beat Neto from the spot. Alex Sandro brought down Eros Pisano inside the area, leaving referee Fabio Maresca no other choice but to award a penalty and the 38-year-old coolly chipped the ball through the middle to open the scoring.

The home side continued to impress after the break and Viviani doubled the lead in the 55th minute with a superb finish, latching onto Artur Ionita’s sublime pass from the right and thundering his shot in the top corner past a helpless Neto.

Urby Emanuelson was unfortunate not to make it three minutes later, volleying just wide, but Juve began to stir and Simone Zaza had a shot pushed onto the post before he found the net, only to be denied by the referee, who had spotted a push in the area.

There was good news for Juventus when Giorgio Chiellini came off the bench to make his comeback from injury, but he could not help them salvage a result, despite Dybala pulling one back in the last minute when he converted a penalty just moments after Alex Sandro received his second booking of the evening.

But it could not detract from Toni’s moment. The striker earned an ovation from fans, team-mates and opponents alike as he was withdrawn in the game’s dying embers before emerging to thank the crowd again upon the final whistle.

 

Key Opta stats:

– Paulo Dybala has scored 21 goals this season (all competitions), the same as Carlos Tevez in his first Juventus season.
– Three of Luca Toni’s six Serie A goals in 2015/16 have come from penalties.
– Juventus have conceded a goal in all of their last four Serie A away games.
– Andrea Barzagli played his 150th Serie A game with Juventus.
– Juventus conceded two goals in a Serie A game for the first time since December vs Carpi, 20 matches ago.

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