Juventus added to Udinese’s woes with a comfortable 4-1 victory at the Stadio Friuli, inspired by Sebastian Giovinco’s brace and a controversial red card.
The Bianconeri welcomed back Gigi Buffon, Giovinco and Giorgio Chiellini from injury, the defender making his first appearance since the Euro 2012 Final in early July. Mauricio Isla, Simone Pepe, Lucio and Simone Padoin are still sidelined with Nicklas Bendtner’s transfer not come through yet, but Kwadwo Asamoah returned to face his former club.
Udinese were still traumatised by Tuesday’s Champions League play-off defeat on penalties and Coach Francesco Guidolin had considered resigning. He had a full squad to choose from here except for Emmanuel Badu and threw new buy Andrea Lazzari straight into the starting XI.
Juve have been drawn in the same Champions League group as Chelsea, so Roberto Di Matteo was in the stands. So was Antonio Conte, still sitting out his 10-month ban and represented on the touchline by Massimo Carrera.
Stephan Lichtsteiner sprung the offside trap from a long Andrea Pirlo ball over the top, but placed his lob well over the net with only Zeljko Brkic to beat.
There was controversy after just 11 minutes, as Giovinco ran into the box between two defenders on another long Pirlo pass. The Atomic Ant managed to get his head to it first, just a second before Danilo shoved him into the on-rushing Brkic. The referee hesitated for a moment before awarding the penalty and red card for the goalkeeper, who was flabbergasted.
Ex-Liverpool ‘keeper Daniele Padelli came off the bench and his first job was to take Arturo Vidal’s penalty out of the net, as the Chilean blasted into the top corner. It was Juve’s second spot-kick of the campaign, but the first to be converted, as Vidal saw his saved against Parma.
Tension threatened to explode moments later when Giampiero Pinzi was booked for tackling Chiellini and scuffles broke out around the field.
Chiellini volleyed wide from a free kick under pressure from Danilo, but comical defending saw two Udinese players collide down the left, allowing Vucinic to get an angled drive which Padelli palmed round the far post.
Maurizio Domizzi didn’t catch his volley properly from the D, sending it well wide.
Juve kept possession without making much of an impact, but in first half stoppages Asamoah’s pass was let through by Pablo Armero for Vucinic to immediately curl into the bottom corner. The Montenegrin did not hesitate to take the chance from the edge of the box, leaving Padelli rooted to the spot.
After the break Giovinco did everything right until the shot, skipping past Dusan Basta and committing Mehdi Benatia with a dummy, but fired over the bar.
Moments later Padelli spilled a long-range strike from Claudio Marchisio, so Giovinco was ready to tap in the loose ball from four yards. The former Liverpool goalkeeper should’ve done better, even if the shot took a slight deflection.
Padelli got a hand to Vucinic’s header and parried a splendid Marchisio rising strike at the near top corner.
The young goalkeeper rushed off his line and used his legs to clear from Vucinic, but the fourth goal was in the air.
Pirlo spread the play for Giovinco, who confused Domizzi with some footwork and smashed the angled drive into the far bottom corner.
Still, the home side did get one back when Allan’s through ball was not dealt with properly, so eventually Lazzari turned in the loose ball from six yards on his Friulani debut.
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Sent off: Brkic 12 (U)