Torino dent the title hopes for Juventus

 

Juventus’ faint Serie A title hopes were further dented by local rivals Torino, who fought their way back to earn a deserved 1-1 draw in Friday night’s derby.

An Andrea Belotti volley in the second half cancelled out Matthijs de Ligt’s early header, leaving Juve fourth in the table on 47 points after 26 games, eight behind leaders AC Milan, who visit bottom side Salernitana on Saturday.

Fifth-placed Atalanta, on 44 points after 24 games, have the chance to leapfrog Juve when they visit Fiorentina on Sunday.

To make matters worse for Massimiliano Allegri’s side, defender Daniele Rugani was injured in the warm-up and then his replacement Luca Pellegrini was taken off at halftime.

Forward Paulo Dybala then had to be substituted early in the second half, deepening Juve’s injury troubles four days before visiting Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Juve are already missing highly experienced centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci through injury, while midfielder Federico Chiesa is out for the rest of the season after tearing knee ligaments in January.

Dutch defender De Ligt headed Juve in front in the 13th minute, arriving at the far post to connect with a Juan Cuadrado free-kick.

Torino coped well with falling behind and matched their more illustrious neighbours for intensity and intelligence and went on to outplay them in the second half.

After coming close to scoring on a few occasions they found an equaliser when Josip Brekalo raced to the byline and launched a cross back into the box which star striker Belotti converted on the volley.

Torino continued to cause the hosts problems until late in the game but were forced to defend with their backs against the wall deep in stoppage time before they could celebrate a well-earned point, taking them on to 33 points in 10th place.

“We had two or three chances in the first half but not many in the second, when we didn’t play with as much freedom. Sometimes that can happen and at least we took a point,” Allegri told DAZN.

“The draw allows us to continue the positive results we’ve had in the last three months,” added the Juve coach, whose side extended their unbeaten run in the league to 12 games, having lost five of their first 14.

AS Roma drop points, Jose Mourinho faces another touchline ban! 

AS Roma fought their way back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Verona but coach Jose Mourinho was sent off in added time for gesturing towards the referee.

Roma, who had a depleted squad due to injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak, trailed early on to a tap-in from Antonin Barak in the fifth minute and an Adrien Tameze strike in the 20th.

The hosts pulled themselves back into contention thanks to two teenage substitutes, Australian-born forward Cristian Volpato, 18, getting their first goal back in the 65th minute before 19-year-old Edoardo Bove levelled in the 84th.

The revival did not manage to satisfy Mourinho, however, and the Portuguese was sent off right before the final whistle for kicking a ball away in frustration after pointing at his head while staring at referee Luca Pairetto, appearing to make the sign of a telephone.

Mourinho declined to speak to the media after the game.

Lacklustre AC Milan drop points

Serie A leaders AC Milan averted a shock defeat to basement club Salernitana on Saturday, with Ante Rebic rescuing a 2-2 draw with a late strike from long range.

Milan, who are chasing a first title in 11 years, went ahead in the fifth minute with a strike from Brazilian attacking midfielder Junior Messias after he had been released by full-back Theo Hernandez. Salernitana pulled level in the 29th minute through striker Federico Bonazzoli and then took a surprise lead in the 72nd with a diving header from Bosnian forward Milan Djuric.

The home side’s euphoria did not last long, however, as Croatian midfielder Rebic let fly with a low shot from outside the box which skidded into the far bottom corner of the net.

The draw meant Milan failed to extend their lead at the top of the table and they sit on 56 points after 26 matches, two ahead of neighbours and champions Inter Milan, who have two games in hand and can regain top spot when they host Sassuolo on Sunday.

Salernitana stayed rooted to the foot of the table but moved on to 14 points.

“The fact we fought back for a draw is positive but we came here for a win. We are disappointed because we didn’t play our usual football,” said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.

“We did not play well technically and made some bad choices with the ball. Our passing was sloppy and we were too hurried and paid a big price for the errors we made, which were naive.”

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Courtesy: Reuters

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