Juventus got back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Spezia in Turin on Wednesday thanks to another sensational Dusan Vlahovic free-kick and Arkadiusz Milik’s first goal for the club.
Serbia international Vlahovic bent an unstoppable effort around the wall and into the top corner after nine minutes in remarkably similar fashion to his strike in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Roma.
Emmanuel Gyasi had an equaliser ruled out for offside as Juve struggled to impose themselves on the game, but they eventually put the result beyond doubt when substitute Milik produced an expert finish in stoppage time.
The win came as a relief to Massimiliano Allegri following two consecutive draws, and it lifted the Old Lady up to fourth place in the Serie A table, two points behind early leaders AS Roma.
The Turin crowd were treated to a welcome feeling of déjà vu early on when Juan Cuadrado won a free-kick on the edge of the area in an almost identical position to where Vlahovic scored his stunner against Roma four days earlier.
The 22-year-old took a deep breath before striding forward and replicating the feat, whipping a left-footed strike past Bartlomiej Dragowski to give his side an early lead.
It was the perfect start for Allegri’s men, but they couldn’t add to their lead and had the offside flag to thank for keeping them in front when Gyasi’s well-taken lob was ruled out.
There were concerning scenes when Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny required a stretcher after landing badly on his ankle late in the first half, and he was replaced by Mattia Perin.
Some better news soon arrived for the home fans, though, as Leandro Paredes waved to the fans at half-time ahead of his move from Paris Saint-Germain being completed, and summer signing Angel Di Maria came off the bench to mark his return from injury.
The Argentina international’s introduction coincided with improved attacking efforts from the hosts, as Vlahovic had a point-blank header saved from a corner and Di Maria sent Danilo through on goal, only for the Brazilian to lash his finish wide.
Spezia’s impressive defensive organisation left them with a chance to snatch a late equaliser, but it was Juve who struck in the dying moments when Milik gathered Fabio Miretti’s low cross, spun his marker and fired a low shot past Dragowski.
TALKING POINT – DI MARIA’S RETURN A RELIEF
When Vlahovic stepped up to take the free-kick from 25 yards, everyone in the Allianz Stadium will have had the same thought: he can’t do it again, can he?
This is Dusan Vlahovic, of course he can. The Serbian stepped up dispatched another wonder strike, a mirror-image of his terrific effort against Roma.
It was a fantastic bit of skill, but Juve’s reliance on Vlahovic to score, and set pieces to create chances is a concern – the Serbian has scored has scored four of Juventus’ six league goals this season, and three of six have come from dead ball situations.
The only time Juve have looked a major attacking threat was when Di Maria put on a show on his debut against Sassuolo on the opening day, scoring one and setting up another.
The 34-year-old’s return from injury tonight off the bench, and the subsequent improvement in Juve’s attacking fluidity, will therefore be a big relief going forward.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – BREMER
What Vlahovic is to Juve’s attack, Bremer is becoming to their defence. The former Torino centre-back has settled in well at his new club, and put in an excellent display to help limit Spezia to zero shots on target.
The 25-year-old’s importance to this team can’t be underestimated, given their struggles to score goals so far. If he can continue to lead the backline to more clean sheets, it will take the pressure off those at the other end of the pitch.
Juventus: Szczesny 6; Danilo 6, Bremer 7, Gatti 7, De Sciglio 6; Rabiot 7, Locatelli 6, Miretti 7; Cuadrado 6, Vlahovic 7, Kean 6. Subs: Perin 6, Kostic 7, Di Maria 6, Milik 7, Sandro N/A
Spezia: Dragowski 6; Hristov 7, Kiwior 7, Nikolaou 7; Holm 6, Kovalenko 6, Bourabia 7, Bastoni 6, Reca 6; Gyasi 6, Nzola 6. Subs: Agudelo 6, Strelec 6, Sala 6, Sanca N/A, Ellertsson N/A
9’ GOAL! (VLAHOVIC) JUVENTUS 1-0 SPEZIA
Vlahovic glares goalwards. Takes a deep breath. And does it again! It’s almost an identical strike to his free-kick against Roma. The Serbian curls it around the wall and into the top corner.
16’ GOAL DISALLOWED (GYASI) JUVENTUS 1-0 SPEZIA
Gyasi races behind the Juve defence to meet a long ball from the right wing and keeps his cool to dink a finish over Szczesny, but the flag is up for offside.
44’ INJURY (SZCZESNY) JUVENTUS 1-0 SPEZIA
Szczesny is carried off on a stretcher after landing badly on his ankle. The goalkeeper has only just recovered from injury, too. Perin comes on in the Pole’s place.
93’ GOAL! (MILIK) JUVENTUS 2-0 SPEZIA
Game, set, match. Milik bags his first Juventus goal after gathering a low cross from Miretti on the right, turning past Hristov and firing low past Dragowski. Top finish from the Poland international.