Juventus:Alessandro Del Piero 80
Sporting Lisbon:Yannick Djaló 13,36
Sporting Lisbon wins Toronto friendly against Juventus(CBC Sport)
With the beleaguered MLS club out of town, Toronto fans for a change savoured a rare taste of cultured and refined soccer Saturday night at BMO Field.
Italian side Juventus and Sporting Clube de Portugal put on a show in an international friendly for the 10,028 spectators in attendance, with the Lisbon outfit emerging 2-1 winners.
Sporting forward Yannick Djalo was the star, scoring a pair of first-half goals past renowned goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. Alessandro Del Piero replied for Juventus with a highlight-reel effort in the 80th minute.
"They are a good team. It was a good game for both teams. We enjoyed it," said Del Piero, a key member of Italy’s World Cup winning side from 2006.
Even in a non-competitive game where both teams had nothing to gain, Juventus and Sporting were able to provide a quality and entertaining product on the pitch, something Toronto FC hasn’t come close to doing this season at BMO Field.
Indeed, it’s a good thing that TFC coach Aron Winter wasn’t in attendance. The Dutchman would have been pulling out what little hair he has over how the two clubs expertly passed the ball, easily retained possession and played an attacking brand of soccer he has tried in vain to get his team playing this season.
Fans feasted on a buffet of smart and highly-skilled play from Juventus and Sporting. TFC supporters have had to dine on a steady diet of disjointed and often-time embarrassing performances. The difference between the two standards of play could not have been more pronounced.
Saturday’s international exhibition was part of the pre-season preparations for Juventus and Sporting, and boy, do both clubs have plenty of work to do before their respective domestic campaigns kick off.
In the case of Sporting, they finished a distant third (36 points off the pace) in Portugal’s Primeira Liga in 2010-11. Not only were they reduced to bit-part players, but they suffered the ultimate indignity of having to watch city rivals Benfica claim the League Cup title, and FC Porto win a historic treble – Primeira Liga crown, Portuguese Cup and Europa League.
As for Juventus, a look at their trophy cabinet confirms them as one of soccer’s most successful clubs: a record 27 Italian league titles, two UEFA Champions League crowns, nine Italian Cups, a trio of UEFA Cups, two World Club Cup championships and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.
But La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady) of Italian soccer has fallen on hard times recently, finishing a disappointing seventh for a second consecutive Serie A campaign in 2010-11, and failing to even qualify for European competition this upcoming season.
Sporting began the rebuilding process in May with the appointment of Domingos Paciencia as coach. A former Porto player, he will expected to lead the Lisbon outfit to glory after guiding provincial side Braga to an impressive four-place finish in the Portuguese first division and the final of the Europa League in 2011.
Juventus wasted little time in showing previous coach Luigi Delneri door at the end of last season, and hiring Antonio Conte as his replacement. Much will be expected of Conte, who served as captain of the bianconeri during the 1990s, to lift the once-proud club out of the doldrums and rebuild it into a European powerhouse.
Juventus started brightly, with forward Alessandro Matri and Serbian winger Milos Krasic craving out early scoring chances.
Sporting soon took over and broke the deadlock in 13th minute off a corner kick. After a goal-mouth scramble, American defender Oguchi Onyewu headed the ball to Djalo who hammered a shot past Buffon.
Djalo doubled Sporting’s advantage in the 36th minute with another powerful strike from inside the Juventus box.
The Italians made a slew of half-time substitutions, including replacing forward Fabio Quagliarella with Del Piero. The Juventus captain did not disappoint the crowd, latching on to a long pass from Jorge Martinez before exquisitely chipping Sporting goalkeeper Marcelo Boeck from 20 yards out.
While Sporting returns home, Juventus continues its North American tour with matches against Mexico’s Club America (July 26 in Flushing, NY) and CD Guadalajara (July 28 in Raleigh, NC).