Sevilla Gatti do better as Juve steal draw
Juventus recovered from a goal behind to rescue a last-gasp 1-1 draw in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League (UEL) semi-final clash with Sevilla, as the Italian side extended their impressive record of never having lost a home UEL fixture (W7, D8).
Having moved one step closer to UEFA Champions League (UCL) qualification after a 2-0 victory over Atalanta at the weekend, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri admitted his side were in a “mentally good” state ahead of a blockbuster clash with UEL specialists Sevilla. Roared on by the fervent home support, it was the Turin-based outfit who started on the front foot, as Filip Kostić and Dušan Vlahović failed to hit the target with a pair of early opportunities.
Despite a cagey start, the visitors gradually gained a foothold in the contest, and after Lucas Ocampos spurned a glorious chance to put the Spanish side ahead, they duly found the breakthrough in the 26th minute. A superb, defence-splitting ball from Óliver Torres released Ocampos free on the right flank, and the Argentine international cleverly picked out Youssef En-Nesyri, who dispatched a clinical finish beyond Wojciech Szczęsny to give the six-time winners a crucial lead.
Armed with the momentum, Sevilla went in pursuit of a second before HT, however Ivan Rakitić’s powerful long-range strike was expertly tipped over by Szczęsny, as Juventus avoided further damage going into the interval. That allowed the Old Lady to regain some semblance of composure, as Allegri introduced Federico Chiesa and Samuel Iling-Junior in the hope of injecting some added impetus into the hosts’ attacking play.
While Juventus showed definite signs of improvement in the early stages of the second half, clear-cut chances came at a premium, as Sevilla maintained their slender advantage going into the final 20 minutes. Desperate to avoid a first-ever home defeat in the competition (W7, D7), Juventus continued to probe for a late equaliser, and their persistence was finally rewarded in the seventh minute of stoppage time when Federico Gatti headed home from close range to set up a fascinating return leg in Seville next week.