Villarreal vs Juventus 1-1: Vlahovic Scores in Champions League Debut

Thirty-three seconds. It took just 33 seconds for Dusan Vlahovic to make an impact at the Estadio de la Ceramica in his Champions league debut. But the Serbian’s lightning-fast goal was not enough for Juventus to make a full score in Villarreal as the Spanish side drew level in the second half with a Dani Parejo strike.

The Round of 16 match-up will thus be decided in two weeks when the Bianconeri receive the Submarino Amarillo at the Allianz Stadium in the second leg. But for now, Massimiliano Allegri can just be happy with the devastating impact his new jewel Vlahovic has had on the European stage.

The Juventus coach deployed him upfront alongside Alvaro Morata, while his other new arrival Denis Zakaria was left on the bench. Other notable absentees among the Juventus lines were Giorgio Chiellini and Paulo Dybala (plus long-term injured Federico Chiesa), with Leonardo Bonucci also sitting on the bench as he was not in good shape.

For Villarreal, Unai Emery couldn’t count on his best striker Gerard Moreno, who was replaced by Giovanni Lo Celso who played as a falso nueve.

Referee Daniel Siebert blew his whistle and, just 32 seconds later Vlahovic had drawn first blood for Juventus already. Danilo picked the former Fiorentina man who, showcasing a true striker instinct, sneaked between Pau Torres and Raul Albiol (not exactly the most inexperienced among defenders…) and whipped the ball past Gerònimo Rulli to score Juventus’ fastest game in a Champions League game.

The last player to score on his Champions League debut with the Bianconeri, just saying, had been a certain Alessandro Del Piero.

The Submarino Amarillo was quick to react and showed that it is not by chance they made it to the knockout stage from a group featuring also Manchester United and Atalanta. Villarreal pushed back Juventus into their own half and, at half time, they had collected a 63% ball possession.

The Bianconeri were tested hard in two occasions but somehow managed to make it through them. First, Lo Celso failed to shoot on target from a mouth-watering service in the middle of the box; then it was Dutchman Arnaut Danjuma to challenge Wojciech Szczesny with a close-rage back-heel strike that the Polish shot-stopper defused using his reflexes.

After the break, Allegri sent in Bonucci for Alex Sandro, who was forced to play at center back due to the emergency situation the Juventus defense was facing. Villarreal caught their breath and their chances started to dwindle.

However, just when it seemed that the visitors could control and maintain their lead, they were punished from their very first defensive mistake. It was minute 66 when Etienne Capoue picked Dani Parejo with a clever cross that leapt beyond the Bianconeri defensive line. Villarreal’s number 5 had all the time in the world to look Szczesny in the eyes before slotting the ball past him, though Adrien Rabiot was much to blame in the occasion for the way he failed to control Parejo.

With five minutes to go, Vlahovic tried to catch Rulli by surprise with a sharp shot from outside the box but the Argentine goalkeeper was well alert. It was the last chance of the game as Juventus weathered the Submarino Amarillo‘s final storm that didn’t give Szczesny any more reasons for concern. It ended 1-1 and the outcome of the confrontation will be decided at the Allianz Stadium.



February 22, 2022 – UEFA Champions League 2021-22 Round of 16

SCORERS: 1′ Vlahovic (I), 66′ Parejo (V)

VILLARREAL (4-4-2): Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Pedraza (79′ Estupinan); Chukwueze (90′ Yeremy Pino), Capoue, Parejo, A. Moreno (79′ Trigueros); Lo Celso, Danjuma (90′ Dia) (Asenjo, Jorgensen, Mario Gaspar, Iborra, Mandi, Moi Gomez, Aurier) Coach: Emery
JUVENTUS (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, De Ligt, Alex Sandro (46′ Bonucci), De Sciglio (87′ Lu. Pellegrini); McKennie (81′ Zakaria), Locatelli (71′ Arthur), Rabiot; Cuadrado, Vlahovic, Morata (Perin, Pinsoglio, Kean, Soulé) Coach: Allegri

REFEREE: Siebert (Germany)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Rulli (V), Rabiot (J); Added Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′