The Holders Held At Lowly Lecce
Juve's Paulo Dybala, Source
The Serie A matchday 9 saw the 2018/19 champion and table topper Juventus travelled to lowly Lecce in a seemingly easy fixture but against all odds, the champions were held to a 1-1stalemate by the 17-placed Lecce, 2 2nd-half penalty-kicks even the honours at the Stadio Via del Mare.
Lecce, promoted back into the Serie A since their relegation in 2012, hasn't had it rosy in the league so far, 2 wins and a draw from 8 matches placed Lecce in the relegation battle, however, the manager Fabio Liverani tutored side put up a resolute defending to keep Juventus at bay all afternoon.
Juventus has not dropped a point since their matchday 3 dab draw at Fiorentina and were on a 5 match winning run, ipso facto were expected to run riot over their host despite Cristiano Ronaldo absence(rested). Also, the last 5 league meetings had seen Juventus recorded 3 wins and 2 draws(including the 1-1 draw in the last meetings in 2012).
The encounter sprung into life in the 26th minute when Gonzalo Higuain thought he's given his team the lead but the celebration was promptly cut by VAR who correctly ruled Higuain offside. After that, Juventus could only test Gabriel in Lecce goal just once in the 1st half, as the host threw themselves in front of every Juventus shot. Juventus finally got their breakthrough goal 10 minutes before the hour mark, Miralem Pjanic drawing a foul in the box, Paulo Dybala then scored from 12 yards. Juventus lead lasted for only 6 minutes, as the host drew level from a spot-kick of their own, Matthijs de Ligt was penalised for handling the ball in the area, Marco Mancosu duly tucked away from the spot.
Lecce's goal scorer Marco Mancosu, source
It was a below-par performance from Juventus, despite enjoying 71% of the match proceedings, Juventus was limited to just 4 shots on target out of a staggering 25-shot total, in contrast to Lecce's 29% possession, a lesser overall shot of 10 but more shots(5) on target. Juventus evidently missed the finesse of the talismanic striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fortunately for the Old Ladies, the 2 points dropped doesn't prove so costly, they still stay a points clear with 23 points over 2nd place Inter Milan(22 points) who could have overtaken Juventus with a win over Parma, however, Antonio Conte's men failed to capitalize on Juventus slip, they needed Romelu Lukaku's equalizer to salvage a 2-2 draw at the San Siro Stadium.
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