17 Nov
2019

Cristiano Ronaldo-less Juventus beat MLS All-Stars minus Zlatan Ibrahimovic

first_imgJuventus beat Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Stars 5-3 via penalties after the game ended in a 1-1 draw after regulation time on Wednesday.With both the sides without their star names in Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the draw was a bit of a letdown for a 72,317-strong crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.The Italian powerhouse prevailed on penalty kicks in the MLS All-Star game after the match ended in a 1-1 draw Wednesday night, a bit of a letdown for a crowd of 72,317.Juventus converted all the five penalties from the spot and won when Mattia De Sciglio drilled one into the top left corner past Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen. The All-Stars converted their first three penalties before Bradley Wright-Phillips of New York Red Bulls missed the fourth one.This was the second straight time that the Al-Star game ended in a 1-1 draw and was decided via penalties. Last year, Real Madrid won against the MLS side 4-2 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.Bravo @mattia_desci #MLSAllStar #CONTAJUS pic.twitter.com/3bHOksWrbKJuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 2, 2018″It was really a wonderful game. “It was good preparation,” Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri said.Indeed, this was nothing more than a warmup for the Italian powerhouse, which begins its pursuit of an eighth straight Serie A title in less than three weeks.In the midst of a four-game American tour, Juventus brought along a number of younger players who have yet to claim a spot with the senior team — including 17-year-old Nicolo Fagioli, who scored on the first penalty kick.advertisementNotably left behind was Juventus’ prized acquisition of the offseason — five-time FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo. The 33-year-old remained in Europe to rest and train after Portugal’s elimination from the World Cup and his pricey transfer from Real Madrid.The MLS team faced its own challenges. There were only a couple of days to blend together an all-star squad from the 23-team league — a group that didn’t include LA Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 36-year-old Swede, who played with Juventus from 2004-06 and ranks second in MLS with 15 goals. skipped the exhibition match, saying he needed the rest after playing three league matches in a nine-day span that included his first MLS hat trick.”Taking into account that we only had two days together, I think everyone did an excellent job,” said Atlanta United coach Tata Martino, who guided the MLS team.This game was a showcase for Atlanta United and $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium , where record crowds have flocked since the club joined MLS in 2017. The team is averaging nearly 52,000 per game this season and already has drawn five largest single-game league crowds in MLS history — each more than 70,000.Over 72,000 tonight for the @MLS All-Star game! Thank you, Atlanta! We are proud to be a part of this amazing night! #MLSAllStar #CONTAJUS pic.twitter.com/baf19HIWJdJuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 2, 2018Add another attendance mark to the ever-growing list. It was the largest turnout in the history of the MLS All-Star Game, surpassing the crowd of 70,728 for the 2010 match in Houston.Juventus jumped ahead in the 21st minute. Giving the Italians far too much room to develop the play, the MLS back line allowed Matheus Pereira to go unchallenged as he curled a left-footed pass in front of the goal. Andrea Favilli flicked it past Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan with a nifty header.The lead didn’t last long. Five minutes later, Martinez sent the Atlanta fans into a frenzy with a goal of pure persistence.Minnesota’s Francisco Calvo got off a blistering shot in front of the net, which was brilliantly swatted away by keeper Wojciech Szczesny with a leaping save. The rebound ricocheted to the side of the net, where Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti attempted to head it in from a tough angle. The ball bounced along the line, all the way to the other side of the net, where Martinez got a head on it — just enough to slide it into the net while Juventus defender Alex Sandro flailed at it helplessly with his feet while sprawled on his back.With 24 goals in just 23 league games, Martinez is on pace to easily eclipse the MLS scoring record of 27 goals and has essentially been conceded the Golden Boot with a third of the season remaining.”I don’t ever think about it. That just adds pressure,” Martinez said of his chance to become the league’s most prolific scorer. “I leave that in God’s hands.It was a thrill to score against Juventus, even though it was just an exhibition.advertisementBefore coming to Atlanta, the Venezuelan played in Serie A with Torino, Juventus’ city rival.”I scored against them with Torino,” Martinez said with a smile, “but I was offside.”(With inputs from AP)last_img

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