Juventus strengthened their case for Champions League football with a dominant 3-1 win at home to Genoa on Sunday afternoon.
The Bianconeri imposed their dominance right from the get-go, taking the lead less than five minutes into the game thanks to Dejan Kulusevski guiding the ball into the net after Juan Cuadrado’s skilful footwork.
They increased their lead shortly after the 20-minute mark. Federico Chiesa drove forward and had his shot saved, Cristiano Ronaldo somehow hit the post on the rebound and finally, the onrushing Alvaro Morata hit the back of the net to save their blushes.
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Inspired by a half-time double substitution, Gianluca Scamacca pulled one back for Genoa only a few minutes into the second half. Nicolo Rovella’s corner found him in space and he drilled his header into the back of the net. Matthijs de Ligt got floored in the process, but the referee was adamant it was not a foul despite multiple players protesting.
That goal signalled a continued spell of momentum for Genoa, but moments after entering the pitch as a substitute Weston McKennie beat the offside trap to score against the run of play to put the visitors’ hopes of a comeback to bed.
Juventus stay third in Serie A, moving just one point behind AC Milan and three points ahead of Napoli. Genoa stay in 13th - 10 points above the drop.
Juventus v Genoa - LIVE
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TALKING POINT - Papering over the cracks?
Andrea Pirlo and this Juventus side have of course been heavily criticised for ending their several years of dominance in Serie A and surprisingly being knocked out of the Champions League by Porto in the round of 16.
The main question the Juventus hierarchy have to answer is whether the win today and on Wednesday are a sign of things beginning to work under Pirlo or simply papers over the cracks.
Considering the futures of several player such as Paulo Dybala, Cristiano Ronaldo, Aaron Ramsey and Giorgio Chiellini all hang in the balance, any managerial decision combined with their strategy in the transfer market this summer could influence whether or not they decide to stay.
Today was a strong performance and the emergence of young stars such as Weston McKennie and Dejan Kulusevski is exciting, but Ronaldo throwing his shirt in frustration after the final whistle will definitely worry some Bianconeri fans.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus)
Bentancur and Rabiot kept Juventus ticking throughout the match. The former's range of passing and defensive work rate were key to them staying on top and preventing Genoa from gaining too much of a grip on the game. While he did not exactly have an eventful afternoon, he quietly had an extremely tidy and well-polished game.
Juventus: Szczesny 6, Cuadrado 8, Danilo 8, de Ligt 7, Chiellini 7, Bentancur 8, Rabiot 8, Kulusevski 8, Chiesa 8, Morata 7, Ronaldo 6...Subs: Sandro 6, Dybala 6, McKennie 8, Arthur 6, Ramsey N/A
Genoa: Perin 6, Criscito 6, Radovanovic 5, Masiello 5, Behrami 5, Biraschi 5, Zappacosta 7, Rovella 7, Badelj 6, Scamacca 7, Pandev 5...Subs: Pjaca 7, Ghiglione 5, Shomurodov 6, Zajc 6, Melegoni 5
5' - GOAL! Juventus 1-0 Genoa. Silky footwork from Cuadrado to beat Rovella down the right and his simple pass into Kulusevski is dispatched into the back of the net! 1-0 Juve.
22' - GOAL! Juventus 2-0 Genoa. Juve make it two! Chiesa charges forward and has his shot saved, Ronaldo somehow hits the post on the rebound and the onrushing Morata finds the back of the net for Juve at the third time of asking!
36' - SAVE!! Chiesa creates another opportunity and Rabiot has a pop but Perin does well to make keep it out!
49' - GOAL! Juventus 2-1 Genoa. Scamacca buries a header to pull a goal back for Genoa! A delightful corner is fizzed into the box and the unmarked Scamacca makes up for failing to score at the end of the first half with a rocket header. De Ligt ended up on the floor and his teammates were appealing for the goal to be disallowed, but the referee ignores it.
55' - SAVED!! The substitute Pjaca powers a low shot towards the bottom corner and Szczesny gets down low to push it away! Genoa are piling on the pressure now.
56' - CHANCE!! Pjaca goes close again! What an inspired sub from Ballardini. The Croatian skilfully evades a couple Juve defenders before striking. His shot this time is much too high though.
70' - GOAL! Juventus 3-1 Genoa. Instant impact for McKennie! Brilliant through ball from Danilo and McKennie beats the offside trap to go one-on-one with the keeper and score past him, even glancing across afterwards to make sure the linesman's flag wasn't up.
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