All eyes were on Max Allegri, who had to make sure that, at his Champions League debut with Juventus, the Old Lady wouldn't repeat the poor performances from the last two seasons and drop vital points in facile encounters.
And he did. Not in the way in which many Juventini were hoping, with a fast-flowing form football that will earn the hearts of those who were still crying after Conte’s departure, but it mattered less. It was the third official match with Allegri and Juventus are still to concede a goal. Results are important, and so far Juventus are getting them — even without Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo or Andrea Barzagli. This is what matters now.
The highlight of a rather bleak match was Carlos Tévez. The Argentine waited five years for a Champions League goal and he finally broke the curse, scoring twice and inspiring the 2-0 win over Malmö.
Unsurprisingly, Juventus started the game strongly, creating one-way traffic but we had to wait until the ninth minute before the first chance. Patrice Evra delivered a great cross for Fernando Llorente — who forced a save from Olsen, only to see the flag raised up for offside.
Despite controlling the game and keeping possession of the ball, Juventus didn’t really threaten. Attacks were too slow and Malmö had no problems respecting their game plan: Going to Turin and defend the 0-0 scoreline.
There was, however, a scary moment in the first half, when Magnus Eriksson had a great chance to give the Swedish side the advantage. A good cross from Malmö’s right flank found Eriksson at the far post unmarked, but his shot was saved by Gianluigi Buffon. It was the first big chance of the game but Buffon showed his class once more to keep Juventus out of trouble.
Juventus couldn’t break down Malmö’s defense, and long shots from Kwadwo Asamoah and Tévez didn’t help, either. Just before halftime, Tévez opened Stephan Lichtsteiner with a nice through ball putting the Swiss 1-on-1 with the keeper. Instead of going for the goal, he tried to find Asamoah in the 6-yard box, but the Ghanaian couldn’t reach the ball and the best chance of the half was wasted. Allegri had to sort out things during the break, as a change in Juve’s game was needed.
Ten minutes into the second half, Leonardo Bonucci needed the intervention of the medical team as he landed awkwardly on his neck after an aerial duel. Luckily, he managed to continue the game after receiving treatment.
Pa Konate was lucky not to be sent off as Polish referee Szymon Marciniak didn’t show him a second yellow card for a late challenge on Paul Pogba.
Juve finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute after a brilliant piece of play from Tévez and Asamoah. The pair combined perfectly at the edge of the box — Asamoah backheeled the ball received from Tévez to put the striker 1-on-1 with the keeper. Tévez made no mistake, coolly slotting the ball into the bottom corner, scoring his first goal in Champions League since 2009.
After scoring the first goal, the pressure was off the players. Juventus kept pushing with more energy and increased pace. Malmo weren’t able to give any kind of response. The Bianconeri failed to score again and put the game to bet, as Lichtsteiner and Llorente wasted good chances. With 10 minutes left to play Juventus were close to another but neither Llorente nor Pogba could reach a cross from Evra for an easy tap-in.
Despite only being on the pitch for five minutes, Álvaro Morata managed to show why Juventus paid €20 million for his over the summer. The Spaniard launched himself in an incisive run after receiving the ball in the middle of the pitch. He was only stopped by a fault at the edge of Malmo’s penalty area.
And from the resulting free-kick Tevez scored with a sublime shot which took Olsen by surprise and surely made Pirlo smile. It was his last kick of the game, as the Argentine was replaced with Sebastian Giovinco, receiving a standing ovation for his match-winning performance.
Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Caceres, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah, Evra; Tevez, Llorente
Malmo (3-4-1-2): Olsen; Johansson, Halsti, Helander; Tinnerholm, Eriksson, Forsberg, Konate; Adu; Rosenberg, Kiese-Thelin
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