Juve mount late comeback to salvage draw with Bologna

Published May 22, 2024
BOLOGNA: Juventus’ Kenan Yildiz (third L) scores against Bologna during their Serie A match at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.—Reuters
BOLOGNA: Juventus’ Kenan Yildiz (third L) scores against Bologna during their Serie A match at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.—Reuters

BOLOGNA: In a match that might have been a test of Thiago Motta’s credentials to take over Juventus, his Bologna team made a blazing start but collapsed at the end and drew 3-3 with the Turin giants on Monday.

Former Italy midfielder Motta’s contract with Bologna, where the 41-year-old has been since 2022, expires at the end of the season. His team have been a revelation this season and are already qualified for next season’s Champions League.

The result left third-placed Bologna level on 68 points with Juve in fourth before the final matchday. Atalanta, who still have two games to play, sit in fifth with 66 points.

Juve playing their first match since Massimiliano Allegri was fired following a spectacular tantrum as his team won the Italian Cup last week, started in a daze.

After two minutes, Riccardo Calafiori side-footed into the roof of net as the ball dropped to him in space following a corner.

On 11 minutes, Argentinian Santiago Castro, a 19-year-old making his first Serie A start, headed in at the near post. The only challenge he had to survive was from teenage team-mate Kacper Urbanski, also eager to nod in from close range.

With Juve seemingly uninterested in running or tackling, Bologna believed they had secured a third goal as Jens Odgaard smashed home a 13th-minute rebound, only for the offside flag to be raised.

Juventus showed more bite after their half-time encounter with interim coach Paolo Montero, the former Uruguay defender who had been managing the club’s Under-19 team.

With the visitors pressing, Castro pinched the ball in midfield in the 53rd minute and launched a Bologna counter-attack. It finished with centre back Calafiori rushing into the box and chipping the ball over Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

After both coaches made five changes, Bologna imploded in five chaotic minutes.

Federico Chiesa kickstarted Juventus’s fightback, pouncing on an error by Jhon Lucumi to pull a goal back for Juventus after 76 minutes.

Motta had taken off both goalscorers. Montero, it turned out, had sent on two.

Substitute Arkadiusz Milik added the second for the visitors from a deflected free kick after 83 minutes.

A minute later, another replacement Kenan Yildiz, the 19-year-old forward who Juve consider a star in the making, sealed the draw with a long shot from outside the box that found the bottom corner.

Montero danced in the rain on the touchline. He is in charge for the last two games of the season.

“In my view, the draw is the fair result,” Montero told DAZN. “The victory on Wednesday [Italian Cup final] was important, mentally it drained them a little bit and to come here against one of the best teams at the moment like Bologna, you are going to struggle. After that dip in mentality, they fought back with pride and showed how much they care about the shirt.”

Motta has been rumoured for weeks to be joining Juve next season, with Allegri’s sacking on Friday only heightening the speculation.

Allegri was sent off in the final minutes of last Wednesday’s 1-0 Cup Final win against Atalanta for ranting at match officials and is also alleged to have manhandled threatened the chief editor of newspaper Tuttosport.

The 56-year-old won 12 trophies, including five Serie A titles, and reached two Champions League finals with Juventus over two spells as manager.

Hellas Verona secured their place in Serie A next season with a 2-1 win over already relegated Salernitana. The result moved them to 13th with 37 points, four points clear of 18th placed Empoli.

Salernitana and Sassuolo are already down and Verona’s win means Udinese, Empoli, Frosinone and Cagliari are fighting to avoid joining them.

Verona’s third win in five games was timely given their last league match is against Inter, who has lost only twice all season.

Tomas Suslov’s second goal in the league was the opener, and Darko Lazovic crossed for Michael Folorunsho to poke home from close range on the stroke of halftime.

Giulio Maggiore scored a consolation for the home side in the final minute.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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