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Allegri defends struggling Emre Can

Manager’s comments after late comeback win at the Olimpico

SS Lazio v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Juventus made a miraculous comeback to surprise a dominant Lazio playing in their home stadium roared on by a hungry crowd, with a Joao Cancelo goal to tie the game and a late penalty clinically dispatched by his countryman Cristiano Ronaldo to snag all three points.

Speaking after the game, manager Massimiliano Allegri was relieved with the result as he saw his side finish the stronger of the two teams.

“We didn’t do well for the first hour, but the last half-hour I think did better. At half-time, I told the lads to pass it more cleanly, not make so many hasty mistakes.

“The introduction of Federico Bernardeschi and Cancelo made us more organised. It was a difficult match, but I’ve been at Juventus for five years and have never had an easy ride at the Olimpico against Lazio, so it wasn’t a surprise.”

Midfielder Emre Can has struggled and looked overwhelmed for much of the game, and was even unfortunately responsible for Lazio’s opener, with the ball ricocheting off him into the goal from a corner.

“It’s my responsibility, as I tried to play with Emre Can in front of the defence and that was a mistake. He doesn’t have the right timing yet, so I put him in a very difficult position. I put Rodrigo Bentancur there instead and it went better.”

Allegri’s substitutions seemed inspired, as both Federico Bernardeschi and Cancelo made an immediate impact after coming on.

“Those who come off the bench are essential. I was sad to leave Bernardeschi out initially, but we have a big game coming up against Atalanta in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.

“The Lazio pressing game caused us problems, especially because our own passing was so misplaced. It felt like we were all wearing different jerseys in the first half, because we couldn’t pass to a teammate. We adjusted some things and were more orderly, so finished the game on a high.

“We knew it was important to win after Napoli drew with Milan. I told the lads a win would be a step forward, even if we didn’t play that well.”

In his post-game comments Giorgio Chiellini had complimented goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for keeping the Bianconeri in the game and the manager was equally pleased.

“Szczesny is doing very well, but we knew he was a great goalkeeper. I think the biggest leap forward he has made is in his focus over 90 minutes and confidence.”

Defender Leonardo Bonucci had hobbled off with an injury and it looks like he might miss around a month, likely changing Juve’s transfer strategy with just days left in the winter mercato.

“Leonardo Bonucci’s ankle is swollen, so we’ll see, but we’ve got Martin Caceres coming in. Miralem Pjanic will be back midweek.”