Al Hilal:Saad Al-harthi 48
Juventus:Alessandro Del Piero 14,23,Eljero Elia 32,Arturo Erasmo Vidal 45,Giorgio Chiellini 51,Simone Pepe 75,Fabio Quagliarella 85
Seven-goal Juve light up Saudi Arabia(Juventus Official Website)
Juventus resumed their preparations for Sunday’s return to championship action with a commanding 7-1 win over Saudi Arabian outfit Al Hilal. The testimonial fixture - a fitting tribute to honour the distinguished career of Mohamed Al-Deayea - gave Antonio Conte’s men the opportunity to put on a show for their Middle-Eastern fan base. And the Bianconeri did just that, treating the King Fahad International Stadium to an entertaining seven-goal showing.
Conte opted for a blend of youth and experience, combining the team’s consistent spine (Buffon, Barzagli, Bonucci, Vidal, Marchisio and Matri) with full-backs Sorensen and De Ceglie, Marrone in midfield and Elia and Del Piero operating either side of Matri.
Juventus immediately gained control of possession and swarmed forward from the off. Del Piero, who saw his every touch greeted by enthusiastic cheers throughout, began brightly and had Juve’s first shot on target after ten minutes. Marchisio slipped the frontman into space, with Al-Deayea getting down smartly to block his goalbound attempt.
But the captain was soon handed another opportunity three minutes later and this time made no mistake. The striker executed a sharp turn in the penalty area and caught the goalkeeper by surprise by slamming a fierce left-footed shot home.
The hosts regrouped and aimed to ask a few questions of the Bianconeri rearguard. Alshlhob’s well-struck free-kick from range looked to be creeping inside the near post, but Buffon watched it all the way and was on hand to repel the danger.
Undeterred, Juventus went back on the attack and soon found themselves two goals to the good. Vidal showed fine vision to thread a slide rule pass into the path of Del Piero, who responded in kind by delicately clipping the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.
Two soon became three shortly after the half-hour mark, courtesy of a fine solo effort from Elia. The Dutch winger embarked on a mazy run before cutting in and firing a low right-footed strike to register his first goal in black and white.
The Bianconeri extended their lead on the stroke of half-time. Del Piero cut the ball back from the byline, Matri slipped a pass to Vidal and the Chilean slotted a fine curling attempt into the top corner.
Conte made wholesale changes at the interval. Storari replaced Buffon in goal, Lichtsteiner, Chiellini and Estigarribia joined Sorensen in defence. Giaccherini, Pazienza and Pepe played further forward in midfield, while Krasic, Quagliarella and Vucinic made up the three-pronged strikeforce.
Contrary to the first period, it was the visitors who made the most promising start and saw their endeavour rewarded with a goal just moments after the restart. Alharthi capitalised on hesitancy in the Bianconeri rearguard, stealing in to prod the ball past Storari from close range.
Yet the new arrivals soon began to make their mark and Chiellini followed up his recent goalscoring exploits by notching another less than a month after his equaliser in Rome. Quagliarella touched the ball back for the defender, who drilled a strong shot into the roof of the net.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Pepe made it six. The in-form winger placed the ball down just outside the area and curled a glorious free-kick over the wall, leaving the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Goal number seven arrived five minutes from time. Quagliarella connected with Vucinic’s inviting cross towards the far post and steered the ball into the bottom corner.
Alamri’s final whistle brought Juve’s Middle-Eastern adventure to a close. The team’s mini-tour has been a roaring success, with Conte’s men having enjoyed wonderful hospitality and facilities in both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The Bianconeri will now return to Italy ahead of Sunday’s championship fixture against Lecce.
AL HILAL 1-7 JUVENTUS
GOALS: Del Piero 14, Del Piero 23, Elia 32, Vidal 45, Alharthi 48, Chiellini 51, Pepe 75, Quagliarella 85
M. Al-Deayea (Shrahili 48, B. Aldeayea 72); Alsharani (Almarshdi 27), Hawsawi (Flatah 27), Almouald (Albisi 45, Khirat 72), Alzouri (Aldokhi 45, Alfarj 72); Alganam (Aldosari 45, Almohyani 72), Alshlhob (Alsbiaai 58, Alyaas 72) , Algamdi (Aziz 27), Wihamsoun (Algarni 45, Hrmash 72); Alharthi, Aljaber (Alaabd 27).
Buffon (Storari 45); Sorensen, Barzagli (Lichtsteiner 45), Bonucci (Chiellini 45), De Ceglie (Estigarribia 45); Vidal (Giaccherini 45), Marrone (Pazienza 45), Marchisio (Pepe 45); Elia (Krasic 45), Matri (Quagliarella 45) Del Piero (Vucinic 45).
ASSISTANTS: Alfaqihi, Alshamri
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Algarni