Juventus:Óscar René Cardozo 88
Benfica:Miloš Krasić 92
Fighting spirit shines through in Geneva(Juventus Official Website)
Juventus continued their pre-season build up with a 1-1 draw against Benfica in Geneva. A combative affair looked to have swung in the Portuguese side’s favour when Cardozo nodded home with two minutes remaining. Yet the Bianconeri clinched the draw their efforts merited after Krasic pounced at the back post to steer home a teasing cross from young Swiss prospect Untersee.
Five of the six travelling Azzurri – Buffon, Bonucci, Pirlo, Marchisio and Giovinco - were handed their first starts of the 2012/13 pre-season campaign, while Matri’s opening goal in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin saw him keep his place in attack. Marrone reprised his central defensive role following an impressive showing in the German capital.
Benfica fashioned the first goalscoring opportunity of the game when Michel squeezed in behind the back three and collected a raking pass from deep on ten minutes. The Brazilian striker stretched to turn the ball goalwards but steered his effort straight into the arms of Buffon.
Six minutes later, Italy’s number one was tested again, this time clutching a long-range effort from Bruno Cesar at the second time of asking.
Juventus settled into their rhythm as the half wore on, with Asamoah looking lively down the left flank and Pirlo beginning to influence the play from deep.
Giovinco, wearing the black and white stripes for the first time since his return from Parma, tried his luck with a shot on the turn on 37 minutes, but found Artur equal to it.
Conte made just one change at the interval, introducing Storari in place of Buffon. And shortly after the restart, the Bianconeri were handed a golden chance to take the lead when Pereira upended Matri in the box. The striker stepped up and struck low to Artur’s left, only to see the goalkeeper guess correctly and stop his effort.
With Quagliarella introduced at the expense of Matri, Giovinco began to drop deep in search of the ball. And the energetic forward almost got his reward on 62 minutes. Having gathered Marrone’s low pass, he drove at the heart of the opposition rearguard before unleashing a strike which took a deflection and looped over the bar.
While the Bianconeri pushed forward in search of a breakthrough, Benfica sought to capitalise on the counter. Rodrigo came within a whisker of netting against the run of play, but Storari was down quick to make a smart save.
The inevitable string of second-half substitutions appeared to take the spark out of the encounter, but Pirlo almost lit up the Stade de Genève courtesy of a trademark free-kick that curled just wide of the upright with fifteen minutes remaining.
As the game looked to be heading towards a goalless conclusion, Benfica struck with three minutes remaining. An inswinging delivery from the left-hand side picked out Carzozo’s deep run, with the Paraguayan stooping to nod the ball back across goal and beyond the reach of Storari.
Yet there was to be one final twist when two Bianconeri substitutes combined to perfection in the dying stages. Primavera prospect Untersee galloped down the right-hand side and sent in an inviting cross which was tapped home by Krasic.
Juventus have one further friendly fixture remaining before they take on Napoli in the Italian Super Cup final: Saturday’s meeting with Malaga in Salerno.
JUVENTUS 1-1 BENFICA
GOALS: Cardozo 88, Krasic 92
Buffon (Storari 46); Lichtsteiner, Marrone (Masi 64), Bonucci; Padoin (Untersee 82), Vidal (Pazienza 82), Pirlo (Pogba 78), Marchisio (Giaccherini 30), Asamoah (Ziegler 73); Giovinco (Krasic 73), Matri (Quagliarella 57)
Substitutes not used: Leali, Rugani, Boakye
Artur; Maxi Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo (Luisinho 78); Javi Garcia, Witsel, Perez (Nolito 56), Martins (Rodrigo Mora 56); Gaitan (Bruno Cesar 6, Ola John 66), Michel (Cardozo 46)
Substitutes not used: Paulo Lopes, Saviola, Kardec
Manager: Jorge Jesus
ASSISTANTS: Pozzi, Wicht
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Pache
BOOKINGS: Maxi Pereira 48, Vidal 51, Luisao 76