The roar that Valentina Cernoia let loose when her 71st-minute goal broke the deadlock on Wednesday night said so much about how things had been going up until that point.
It was a long-awaited breakthrough.
It was the reward for everything the Juve women had done up until that point.
Within the last 20 minutes of their 2-0 win over Swiss champions FC Zürich, Juventus Women was able to flip a scoreless game previously full of frustration in front of goal into the kind of deal in which they probably expected to happen a lot sooner. It was, statistically, the kind of dominant showing that might have you thinking the score should have been a lot more than just two goals coming after the final 20 minutes are played. At the same time, it was the kind of night in which Cernoia and Barbara Bonansea didn’t find the back of the net until the 71st and 85th minutes, respectively — which, as you can tell from those two times, meant it was 70 minutes full of pushing for an opening goal and not seeing anything materialize because of it.
But, with a couple of subs at the right time, Juve manager Joe Montemurro saw his team get that breakthrough they so desired and get a win in Switzerland to begin the Women’s Champions League group stage for the second straight season.
Combine that with what happened in the other matchup in Group C and ... boy, there’s a whole lot of potential for some craziness to happen over the next few matchups as the level of competition for the Juve women goes way, way up.
That’s a big reason why getting a win Wednesday night, no matter how they got there, was so vital if Juve wanted to get out of the group stage for the second straight season. Coming out of Pot 3 again this season, Juve was again matched up with two of the best teams in Europe, including the reigning UWCL champions in Lyon. Getting the three points against FC Zürich had to happen because, even though they were away from home, Juventus Women were most definitely the favorites to come out victorious.
And, sure, it wasn’t all that great at times.
And, yeah, their finishing should have been better than what it was.
But Montemurro’s team has shown the ability to win these kinds of games even when everything isn’t necessarily clicking the way they need them to or, honestly, want them to.
They did it again Wednesday night.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- In the other game going on in Juve’s group on Wednesday, Arsenal absolutely dismantled Lyon — the defending UWCL champions, no less! — to make a very early statement on the European stage. Lyon comes to Turin next Thursday night and I feel like there’s one of two options of how they will arrive: extremely pissed off or totally susceptible to another night of dropped points.
- It just shows you what kind of depth that Joe Montemurro has at his disposal that he can bring the likes of Bonansea, Agnese Bonfantini and Arianna Caruso off the bench in a Women’s Champions League game. Montemurro did some squad rotation knowing that there’s a big game at the weekend — and because he tends to do that regardless of what’s next up on the schedule — but it also allowed him to bring three of his best players on exactly when the game needed it.
- The job Cristiana Girelli did on Juve’s first goal to hold off her defender with her back to goal and then pass the ball out to Cernoia was simply fantastic. She’s pretty well known for her goals, but Girelli is pretty capable of setting up a few, too.
- But that is second to what kind of move Julia Grosso put on her defender as she dribbled into the box right before Bonansea scored the second goal. That was just filthy. Absolutely filthy.
- Grosso was named as the player of the game and it was easy to see why with how she played. The biggest thing outside of the slick move prior to the second goal? How about a 96 percent pass success rate. That’ll play. I’ve always loved Canada.
- In a post-game interview, Bonansea said she wanted to cause the Zürich defense trouble. I’d say she did that.
- This was a zero save game from Pauline Peyraud-Magnin. Those games, especially when they are wins and/or shutouts, are always the best kinds of games for the defense as a whole.
- Juventus attempted 640 passes. They completed 542 of them.
- FC Zürich attempted 324 passes. They completed 243 of them.
- Juventus attempted 12 total shots.
- FC Zürich attempted all of four total shots.
- Juventus held 65 percent of the possession. That’s a lot.
- Cernoia has always been one of the more under-the-radar players during her time with Juventus simply because she’s not scoring a ton of goals or is just a name that garners a lot of attention like Girelli or Bonansea. But she is about as versatile of a player as Juve has and she just delivers and delivers and delivers.
- You know who also delivered again? Cecilia Salvai. Let’s just hope that she can enjoy this good run of form post-injury and not have any setbacks because her importance now that Sara Gama is probably not a full-time starter anymore cannot be understated.
- All in all, a pretty decent day for the best team in Italy. Just as we said this time last year, this group is no joke, so any time you can get three points in the bank, it’s never a bad thing.