Through the first 60 minutes Wednesday night, Lyon were in complete control. They had all of the possession they had wanted, they were dictating the play and Juventus Women Women really had no kind of answer whatsoever. Joe Montemurro’s facial expressions — which are always top notch no matter what the score actually is — said it all, really, with frustration clear as day.
Then, in the 62nd minute, it all changed.
Lyon’s Ellie Carpenter was shown a straight red for pulling down Valentina Cernoia and suddenly Juve had wind in their sails. And they didn’t just start getting the attacking chances they didn’t have over the first hour, they suddenly flipped the tie against one of the true giants of Europe in their favor.
In another Women’s Champions League shocker for Joe Montemurro and his crew, Juventus Women got second-half goals from Cristiana Girelli and substitute Agnese Bonfantini to claim a 2-1 win and head into next week’s second leg with a legitimate chance of advancing to the semifinals. Montemurro, knowing full well that his team suddenly was up a player, went for it, bringing on every single one of his best options off the bench — whether it was Bonfantini, who scored with one of her first touches of the game, or midfielder Arianna Caruso, the player who sent Bonfantini through with an absolutely peach of an assist that split the Lyon defense.
Color me surprised.
Or, let’s face it, more than that.
Color me shocked that after 60 minutes of being absolutely pinned back Juve would go out and take full advantage of Carpenter being sent off like you hoped they could.
This is one of the biggest results in Juventus Women’s short history. And for a team that has, up until this season, not done very much on the European stage, it just speaks volumes about the kind of team they have built and the kind of manager they have leading the group.
Last season was a close call against Lyon in the UWCL Round of 32, with Juve taking the lead twice before ultimately coming away with a 3-2 win to take back to France. Lyon went on to roll in the second leg, ending Juve’s European campaign just barely after it started.
This time around, though, Juventus needed something — anything — to go their way to try and get back into this game. The door opened when Carpenter was sent off and, much to his credit, Montemurro read that as the chance to absolutely snatch a win away from a club in Lyon that has won this competition seven times and had Women’s Champions League experience galore up and down its roster.
And they did just that.
Girelli was able to jump on a mistake at the back with 20 minutes to go to tie the game. Bonfantini, who came on less than two minutes before she scored the game-winner, then absolutely lit the J Stadium up with a brilliant run through the Lyon defense. With the moves Montemurro made, it was just the latest instance in which the Italian man with an Australian accent got it right on the big stage. Juve had nothing to lose, essentially playing with house money after making the UWCL for the first time in their short history.
Now, Montemurro’s team has the chance to make even more history.
This team may be the gold standard in Italy, but they’ve continuously been the underdog in Europe both in the group stage and now in the quarterfinals. Something tells me they’re perfectly OK with that — and they continue to show us why.
Go on and shock the world again next week, ladies.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- You know it’s a massive win when Sara Gama, the epitome of level-headedness and being even keeled, is reacting the way she is after the final whistle.
- Also, Gama was a goddamn rock at the back in the second half. That’s MY captain.
- Gama and Linda Sembrant combined for 10 clearances. They did absolute work.
- You also know it’s a big goal when your goalkeeper, in this case Pauline Peyraud Magnin, sprinted the full length of the field to celebrate with her teammates. Like, literally all of her teammates. That was an absolute mob scene around Bonfantini. That was fun.
- I’m as big of a Benny Glionna stan as there is and would have loved for her to be on this team this season following her impressive loan spell at Empoli last year, but that swap deal with Roma to bring Bonfantini to Turin is looking pretty good, isn’t it? She’s clutch.
- Because it’s tradition this season — especially during the winter and early spring months in Italy — here’s a shot of Joe Montemurro and his slick scarf game:
- As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the match feed cut to Girelli and Martina Rosucci on the bench. Girelli locked like an absolute nervous wreck while Rosucci had a giant smile on her face as she yelled for the ref to blow the final whistle. If that ain’t that duo summed up perfectly, I don’t know what is.
- Not only did Girelli score the game-tying goal but she also had a huge goal line clearance in the first half. Ah, how big that looks now knowing that Juve went on to win the game.
- Speaking of close calls, I’m glad that Lina Hurtig’s huge miss in the second minute didn’t come back to bite Juve in the backside. That would have loomed large if Lyon had gone on to win this game.
- Lyon had 61 percent possession in the first half. That was somewhat expected, but at times it felt like more with how well they were pressing out of the gate.
- When Juve did have the ball in the first half, they only completed 72 percent of their pass attempts. That obviously speaks to Lyon’s press being so effective, but also to the fact that Juve were just completely out of sorts when they did have the ball.
- A sign of just how pinned back Juve were? Lisa Boattin, a fullback who LOVES to bomb up and down the left wing whenever possible, barely touched the ball in the Lyon half of the field. That is about the opposite of how she usually plays.
- That was a red card on Ellie Carpenter every single day of the week and you can’t tell me otherwise.
- Catarina Macario is really, really good. #USA #USA #USA
- You wanna know how prime time Arianna Caruso is? Just go watch that assist on Bonfantini’s goal. Just do it and it will make you smile. That’s the future for both this club and country. And she’s pretty good in the present, too.
- Bonfantini touched the ball a total of ... three times.
- Juventus finished with three shots on target. Two of them were goals.
- In conclusion, I love this team. They are fun, they are fun to root for and they’re also pretty damn good at this game on top of it all. That’s only been confirmed once again with this stunning result.