By Jerry Mancini.
Juventus failed to extend their lead on Inter Milan and Lazio when they dropped three points against Hellas Verona.
Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored in ten consecutive matches for Juventus and the striker set a club record, but it was not enough to help the Bianconeri claim the win.
Fabio Borini and Giampaolo Pazzini each scored for the Gialloblu in this 2-1 victory against the league leaders at the Marcantonio Bentegodi.
The match involved a fair use of VAR, as in the 21st minute Verona believed Marash Kumbulla gave Verona an early 1-0 lead against Juventus.
After further review, Kumbulla’s goal was shown to be in an offside position. Although the goal was disallowed, the home team continued to play a strong game, making it hard for the Bianconeri to create and sustain any attacks.
In the second half, it was the away team who were first on the scoresheet. Paulo Dybala made an impact when he came on for Gonzalo Higuain, working hard and showed great speed on the attack.
Dybala started the play with a great hold up and got control of the ball after receiving it from a redirected shot. He made a pass to Rodrigo Bentancur who chipped the ball to Ronaldo. The striker carried the ball upfield and beat Amir Rrahmani one on one to give the Bianconeri a 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived as, just over ten minutes later, Verona tied the match following a poor giveaway involving Bentancur and Miralem Pjanic. Juventus were left vulnerable and Borini made no mistake, capitalizing on the opportunity to find the back of the net.
With under five minutes remaining before added time, VAR was needed once again for a call inside the box.
Verona were awarded a penalty after Kumbulla’s header went off the arm of Leonardo Bonucci and rebounded off the crossbar. Pazzini converted on the penalty to give the Gialloblu the 2-1 lead which turned out to be the game-winner.
Juventus squandered points for the second time in three matches.
“This team has been accustomed to winning comfortably over recent years and we need to get it into our heads that we cannot afford to waste points,” Juve manager Maurizio Sarri told DAZN.
“Hopefully we’ll learn the lesson because we have been talking about it for quite a while. It’s difficult because the team trains well but then can’t rise to its full potential during matches. We have to find a resolution to this.
“The mind is most important. If that’s not engaged then you aren’t going to be on the mark tactically. Similarly, if your mind is also not 100 percent engaged, then the physical stuff won’t follow either.
“We need to realize that winning cannot be taken for granted. We must work harder, get dirty when we need to, and not relax.
“Verona deserve immense credit for the first 30 minutes, but we deserve the blame for the final half-hour. They showed great intensity – we didn’t. It’s that simple.”
Verona continue to impress this season, currently sitting in 6th place and a Europa League spot for next season.
Meanwhile, Juventus continue to drop points — something they are not accustomed to. The door is now wide open for Lazio and Inter to gain ground on the leaders.
By the end of the weekend the top three teams could be separated by just one point.