19th July 2024

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus’ hopes of winning a 10th straight Serie A title were dealt a major blow after Adolfo Gaich snatched a remarkable winner for strugglers Benevento at the Allianz Stadium.

Gaich pounced on a stray Arthur pass before punishing the sluggish hosts.

Juve had a penalty overturned and Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal disallowed as Benevento ended an 11-game winless run with one of the season’s upsets.

The defeat leaves third-placed Juve 10 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring as AC Milan edged out Fiorentina 3-2 in Florence.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s 72nd-minute winner helped Milan leapfrog Juve into second in the Serie A table.

One shot, one goal

With Inter’s game against Sassuolo postponed this weekend because of a coronavirus outbreak at the Nerazzurri, victory against a Benevento side that has struggled so far in 2021 was seen a chance to put pressure on the title pacesetters.

Instead, Andrea Pirlo’s Juve suffered their first home defeat since December against a well-organised team that pinched victory with their only shot on goal.

Juve themselves had a number of chances, with Benevento goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo ensuring Filippo Inzaghi’s Witches left with all three points after making a series of decisive saves either side of the break from Ronaldo, Matthijs de Ligt and Alvaro Morata.

Montipo was also called upon to tip a headed second-half clearance from team-mate Federico Barba over the bar in an inspired performance.

Juve were even awarded a penalty in the 35th minute when the ball appeared to brush Daam Foulon’s arm as he tried to get his chest to a cross, but referee Rosario Abisso overturned his decision after being instructed to watch a replay on the pitchside monitor.

From the resulting corner, De Ligt tested Montipo before Morata wastefully sent his follow-up effort over the bar.

Juventus continued to press forward in the second half, but lacked urgency and quality and were eventually punished by Argentine striker Gaich, who intercepted a weak pass across goal from Arthur before coolly beating keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Denied twice

Ronaldo, who flashed an early shot across goal and had a volleyed effort ruled out for offside before the break, was twice denied a late equaliser by the excellent Montipo.

 

The rebound from the second of those saves fell to Danilo, who could only fire over the bar as 16th-placed Benevento moved seven points clear of the relegation spots.

‘Juve must continue to believe in title’ – what they said

Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo: “It’s not a question of pressure, we had to play a better game, we had to win.

“We had a bad game in every way. We rushed too much, we made too many mistakes.

“We have to continue to believe in the title. We must continue to follow our path to be able to try to stay there. The objective does not change, it is the head which must change.”

Benevento captain Nicolas Viola: “This was a game that marks a turning point; we had the right attitude.

“We are overjoyed. We are a humble team and when we find courage we are hard to beat, we make the opposition play badly.”

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