Thursday, September 23, 2021

Juventus 0-1 Empoli: Mancuso leaves Allegri´s men still searching for first win

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Aug 2021

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Leonardo Mancuso scored to secure a surprise 1-0 victory for newly-promoted Empoli in Turin that left Juventus stunned and still without a win in Serie A this season.

Mancuso ended his side’s five-game run without a league goal at Juve in the competition as he opened the scoring from close range, while Guglielmo Vicario impressed in goal.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo as he edges closer to returning to Manchester United, Juve’s main attacking threat came through Federico Chiesa, but even he could not steer any of his three attempts past the Empoli goalkeeper.

Chiesa forced early saves from Vicario, with surging runs creating both opportunities before the goalkeeper produced smart saves to parry away.

However, it was Mancuso who struck first, profiting from Nedim Bajrami’s deflected shot to spin and volley past Wojciech Szczesny. 

Mancuso’s opener stunned the vociferous Allianz Stadium and was Empoli’s first Serie A away goal against Juventus since Sergio Almiron netted in January 2006.

Vicario pushed away another low effort from Chiesa, while Patrick Cutrone almost made it two but fired narrowly wide to Szczesny’s right with a thumping effort.

On the stroke of half-time, Szczesny was called into action once more, retreating quickly to tip over the crossbar and spare Chiesa’s blushes after the Juventus forward had looked to head backwards.

Paolo Dybala started the second half encouragingly, linking up with Alvaro Morata and drilling at Vicario before Bajrami forced another save from Szczesny.

Dybala curled wide from a free-kick, but the hosts failed to find a way past Vicario, ensuring a memorable victory for Empoli.

What does it mean? Empoli shock Juve as Allegri remains without a win 

Juventus had won 11 of their last 12 at home in Serie A against Empoli, but Aurelio Andreazzoli’s men provided a shock. 

Saturday’s loss means Massimiliano Allegri’s team have failed to win either of their opening two in the competition for the third time in the last 52 Serie A seasons – having done so in 2010-11 and 2015-16, too. 

The hosts, who were also defeated by Benevento last March, have lost successive Serie A home matches against promoted sides for the first time since in their Italian top-flight history, while Empoli avoided back-to-back opening defeats for just the second time in the last six top-flight campaigns. 

Impressive Ismajli 

Despite a second-half caution, Ardian Ismajli played impressively to limit Dybala, Morata and Chiesa. 

The centre-back won a game-high 11 duels, five of those in the air, while producing a match-leading six clearances and completing 93.9 per cent of his passes. 

Cutrone continues to struggle 

Cutrone has played 26 consecutive matches without scoring (between Empoli, Valencia, Fiorentina and Wolves), surpassing his previous worst streak in the top five European leagues (September 2019).  

The loanee was caught offside a game-high two times, completed just 58.3 per cent of passes and failed to win any of his six duels as he struggled up top. 

Key Opta facts

– Empoli won for the first time in Serie A away meetings at Juventus, after 11 defeats and one draw in the previous 12 matches. 

– Juventus have conceded at least one goal in nine successive home matches in all competitions for the first time since September 2011, under Antonio Conte. 

– Juan Cuadrado played his 300th Serie A game, becoming only the third Colombian to reach this milestone in the three points for a win era, after Iván Córdoba (323) and Cristián Zapata (311). 

What’s next? 

Juventus travel to Napoli on September 12 after the international break, while Empoli host Venezia on the same day.

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