For the second time in just over a week, Juventus Women got a stoppage-time goal from one of its talented strikers. It was Cristiana Girelli last week, it was Andrea Staskova on Thursday night in Germany.
But this time around, it didn’t snatch a point and pull the rug out from Wolfsburg when it looked like the German giants were headed toward the win.
It was much, much better than that.
Staskova’s 93rd-minute minute strike — with a bad-ass assist from Barbara Bonansea and then a sweet little kiss off the post before crossing the line — sealed what is Joe Montemurro’s first major signature win as Juventus manager. Montemurro’s side, playing its toughest away fixture to date, went to Germany and recorded a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg to leapfrog the German side in the Group A standings and move into second place with two group stage matches to go.
You read that right.
With two matches to go in Women’s Champions League group stage play, Juve’s currently in one of the two places needed to advance to the knockout rounds.
That might not have been something we thought was possible when the groups were first drawn a couple of months ago. But with the chance to make things more than just a little interesting Thursday night, Montemurro and his crew went out and did just that.
They had to do a lot of defending — especially in the first half when Wolfsburg had a ton of the ball in the opening 20 or 25 minutes. But with the way Montemurro set things up, that was to be expected all along. He knew that his team would have to be sound defensively, eliminate the mistakes that led to a pair of really nice Wolfsburg goals last week in Turin and then try to hit
Yet you look at the final shot numbers: Wolfsburg 14, Juventus Women 13.
So, in that sense, it wasn’t like Juve got dominated but somehow, some way got a win against one of the best clubs in Europe. Did they get a little lucky? Of course, you’ve gotta have some luck on your side when the eventual game-winning goal is of the own goal variety. But this was more than just luck. This was a hard-fought, well-earned win that Juve fully deserved with how they played.
The reward is where they sit in the standings with two group stage matches to go. Sure, one of those is against Chelsea, which started its game against Servette level on points with Juventus but ahead because of the Blues’ Oct. 13 win in Turin. But because of this win over Wolfsburg, the trip to London on Dec. 8 is no longer completely decisive. Juventus can afford to not win and then hope to get some on the final day of the group stage when Servette comes to Turin.
It’s a bit of a roll of the dice to hope that Chelsea comes through, but Juve’s now in position to where they’re in second place in the group and deserve to be there. That’s just what happens when you get a few big-time stoppage-time goals like the Bianconere have gotten over the last week.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
(Note: Because your boy was battling a pounding headache throughout the watching of this match, this won’t exactly be as thorough as it usually is.)
- You want to know how big of win this was? The usually calm, cool and collected Sara Gama, Juve’s stalwart of a captain, was absolutely hyped during the post-game celebrations. You don’t see that from her often, usually letting her teammates do the rowdy celebrating. But there was Gama, right in the middle of it all, pumping her fist and screaming with the rest of the gang. That’s my captain.
- Juventus Women: undefeated in games in which Joe Montemurro busts out his famous scarf in cold weather. I’ve been waiting for this day ever since he was hired.
- The assist that Barbara Bonansea delivers on Staskova’s win-clinching goal took so much damn skill even though she could have easily just dribbled into the corner to waste more time. Instead of doing just that, though, Bonansea essentially takes on three defenders while on the counterattack, delivers a pass with the outside of her right foot, megs one of said defenders and then gives Staskova a wide open chance on goal. We know how it ended.
- On the not-so-happy side of things: I think it’s time for a prayer circle regarding Valentina Cernoia’s knee. That tackle in which she injured it did not look good, nor did her efforts to try and get off the field shortly after getting injured. It sucks for her, it sucks for Juventus and it sucks for the Italian women’s national team knowing the big matches they have coming up during the next international break.
- With that being said, it’s a pretty massive luxury for Montemurro to turn to the bench and sub somebody like Arianna Caruso on when Cernoia gets hurt. That’s the value of depth, my friends.
- Juventus caught Wolfsburg offside seven times. SEVEN! I can’t remember a number that high in a while. (Maybe I’m completely wrong, but go with me here.)
- That defensive effort — my god it was good.
- Like, seriously. It was so damn good. Remember, this is a Wolfsburg team, while missing a few players due to injury, that dropped three goals on Chelsea in the group stage opener and beat a really good Bayern Munich team over the weekend. Yet, they couldn’t score against a Juve defense that had a monster night. That was so good.
- Juventus hired Joe Montemurro to get things done in Europe, and he’s currently getting things done in Europe. That’s what a well-run club does — makes good decisions and keeps things rolling even when the roster changes.