A goal so sensational as to be faintly ludicrous – scored by Dusan Vlahovic, 33 seconds into his Champions League debut – put Juventus ahead at El Madrigal. But Villarreal fought back and Dani Parejo’s 66th-minute equaliser left the tie in the balance.
Villarreal actually responded fairly well to the shock of it all, creating an excellent chance that Giovani Lo Celso missed. But Juve always looked as likely to score as to concede, solid enough at the back for their superior attackers to find something more.
But midway through the second half, Juventus’ play became sloppy, and that was all Villarreal needed to pick a hole in their defence, Parejo sweeping home a finish very similar to one missed by Alvaro Morata not long before.
Neither side came especially close to a winner in a scrappy match of low quality, and though home advantage Juventus will make favourites to progress, there isn’t much between these sides so Villarreal are right in the tie.
It is true that Max Allegri inherited a side in transition, as it is that he had good players injured. But that is no excuse for his side to play with so little aggression, and should Villarreal progress, Juventus will only have themselves to blame – a serious peformance tonight, and the tie would already be over.
This is not a philisophical point – there is no right way to play football. But the best players in Juventus’ XI are attackers, so invitiing pressure instead of creating chances made no practical sense.
Perhaps Allegri is building, so relying on what he knows best. But that is not what this team does best.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Etienne Capoue (Villarreal) In a vacant field, he created his team’s goal and was the game’s most effective midfielder.
Villarreal: Rulli 6, Foyth 6, Albiol 6, Torres 7, Pedraza 6, Chukwueze 4, Capoue 7, Parejo 7, Moreno 5, Lo Celso 5, Danjuma 4. Subs: Trigueros 6, Estupinan 6, Dia 6, Pino 6.
Juventus: Szczesny 6, De Sciglio 6, Danilo 5, De Ligt 6, Alex Sandro 6, Locatelli 5, Rabiot 5, Cuadrado 6, Mckennie 6, Vlahovic 7, Morata 5. Subs: Bonucci 6, Zakaria 6, Arthur 6, Pellegrini 6.
At 22 years and 25 days, Dusan Vlahovic is the second youngest player to score on their Champions League debut for Juventus, after Alessandro Del Piero (20 years 308 days).
1’ – GOAL! Villarreal 0-1 Juventus (Vlahovic) Thirty-three seconds! How about that?! Moreno gives it away cheaply and one ball over the top – a beauty from Danilo – finds Vlahovic, in between the centre-backs and running away form goal as he controls gorgeously on his chest. Then, the second the ball drops, he swivels into a snap-shot, absolutely certain of the far corner’s whereabouts, and that is a stunning goal!
13’ – AND LO CELSO MUST SCORE!
It’s a strange thing, the Lukaku thing but excuse me while I interrupt myself! A heavy touch from Danilo is pounced upon by Pedraza, who tears into the box and squares for Lo Celso. The ball is a little behind him, but the goal is punkt in front of him, and he could breathe this in! But he drags from behnd and lops against the post and behind! What an oversight!
47’ – HERE COME JUVE!
Cuadrado crosses from pretty deep on the right, but plants the ball on Morata’s foot at the far post. He’s maybe eight yards out, left of the box, and has a long time to watch it come over … and only to help it into the ground and wide.
66’ – GOAL! Villarreal 1-1 Juventus (Parejo) That didn’t feel imminent but Juve were starting to lose focus, which is why they conceded to a well-executed but simple move. Outside the box, Capoue waved a ball over the top for Parejo, who run into the box unmolested, watched it onto his foot and swept it inot the far corner – a finish very similar to the one morasta missed earlier.
72’ – RABIOT GOES OVER THE BALL
And and stamps on Chukwueze’s knee! There’s a mini-melee, no violence but some jostling and arguing. The Villarreal players want him sent off and Rulli comes out of his goal to make the point; he’s booked, then Rabiot is booked. That is the reddest red you’ll ever see and I’ve not a clue how the 58 officials haven’t appraised it as such.
85’ – THERE HE IS!
Morata finds Vlahovic, just outside the box, and he conjured a yard, digging out a low shot that Rulli does well to save. He knows where the goal is and how to find it; he deserves and requires better service than he’s had tonight.