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Juve's Samp shock shakes up title race

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-21 07:21

MILAN - This season's Serie A title race, shaping up to be the most interesting in years, took another turn on Sunday when Juventus fell to a stunning 3-2 loss at Sampdoria.

Captain Gianluigi Buffon and defender Andrea Barzagli were rested in the wake of Italy's World Cup exit, and without them Juve looked lethargic.

"Explaining this match is difficult, it's a match which leaves you with your mouth open because we didn't let them have almost any chances," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"We played very well in the first half but if we didn't score it means we weren't good in finishing. Then we conceded a goal on their first chance. That's also football."

Juventus trailed by three goals heading into injury time after Colombian Duvan Zapata, Uruguayan Lucas Torreira and Italian defender Gian Marco Ferrari scored in the second half for Samp.

The six-time reigning champion got two back in stoppage time, with Gonzalo Higuain scoring from the spot and substitute Paulo Dybala grabbing a second just before the final whistle.

Juventus fell to third position four points behind leader Napoli - 2-1 winners over AC Milan on Saturday - with Inter Milan moving into second place thanks to a Mauro Icardi brace in a 2-0 win over Atalanta.

Napoli has 35 points from 13 games, two points ahead of Inter, with Juventus at 31 and Roma fourth, a point back with a game in hand, after beating Lazio in a pulsating Rome derby on Saturday.

"This was an unexpected slap in the face," said Allegri.

"Today's game is one of those that happen once in a year, it's a difficult game to explain and that leaves you a bit gobsmacked.

"We should have been patient, even if things weren't going our way. It's a long game, you have to stay calm."

The Turin side had the better chances early on, with a Higuain shot deflected wide and Mario Mandzukic and Juan Cuadrado forcing saves.

Sampdoria's movie producer president Massimo Ferrero likened the victory to that of "a Fiat over a Ferrari".

"Mr Buffon said that other teams tend to get out of the way of Juventus, well today he and his Juventus got out of our way."

'Another drama'

Juve's Samp shock shakes up title race

Allegri took a risk as he rested goalkeeper Buffon and defender Barzagli, with Dybala starting on the bench against a side that has made its home ground a fortress this season.

"Buffon and Barzagli are getting over the (World Cup) disappointment," explained Allegri.

"After 15 days with the national team, with enormous pressure on them, it's just right to rest.

"It's football, it's another drama, an extraordinary event that has unfortunately left Italy out of the World Cup, but we know how to get up and start again."

Sampdoria kept Juventus pinned back in the first half with Zapata breaking the deadlock when he headed in after a Federico Bernardeschi error in the 52nd minute.

Torreira fired the second goal in the 71st and Ferrari the third eight minutes later.

Juventus was awarded a penalty after Ivan Strinic fouled Douglas Costa, with Higuain getting the visitor's first in the 91st minute, while Dybala added the second in the final seconds.

It was Juve's second league loss of the season after Lazio, and a blow for Allegri's side as it prepares to face Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Argentine international forward Icardi headed in both second-half goals for Inter at San Siro to bring his tally to 13 in as many league games.

Lorenzo Insigne washed away his World Cup woes by starring in Napoli's victory over a struggling but spirited AC Milan.

Milan coach Vincenzo Montella remains under pressure despite a strong second-half performance as his side remains in seventh place with just 19 points after its sixth loss in 13 games.

Benevento record

Promoted Benevento fell to its 13th defeat in as many games, 2-1 to Sassuolo, to set a new European record.

The side from outside Naples eclipsed Manchester United, which lost 12 matches in a row at the start of the 1930-1931 season.


 Juve's Samp shock shakes up title race

Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain shows his frustration during Sunday's 3-2 Serie A loss to Sampdoria in Genoa.Reuters

(China Daily 11/21/2017 page22)

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