Paulo Dybala struck a late penalty to save Juventus’s blushes in a 1-1 draw with Chievo, although they remain six points behind title rivals Roma ahead of their Champions League opener against Manchester City.
Juventus, last season’s beaten Champions League finalists, meet City in Group D on Tuesday and on this showing Manuel Pellegrini’s men will fancy their chances of taking three points off the Italian champions.
Having already suffered their worst ever start to a Serie A season following defeats to Udinese and Roma, Juventus welcomed Chievo to Turin determined to take all three points, albeit with one eye on Tuesday’s fixture.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri left Juan Cuadrado, Mario Mandzukic and Paul Pogba on the bench and handed full debuts to former Inter Milan midfielder Hernanes as well as Brazilian defender Alex Sandro.
Juventus were jeered off at half-time after conceding within first 5 minutes
The rested trio’s presence, however, was eventually required as Juve fought back after conceding a fifth-minute opener when Perparim Hetemaj fired low past Gianluigi Buffon from outside the area.
“The mistake we made was conceding on their first shot at goal,” Allegri told Sky Sport.
“We have to make big improvements, but given the movement in the transfer market and the break for international games, I’ve only had a full squad available for the past three days.
“We had the right approach to the game but we need to be realistic and accept our terrible position in the league.”
Buffon held his finger to his lips in a bid to silence Juve’s fans at half-time as the hosts were jeered off. Before then, Juve had spurned a few good chances to pull level against the Flying Donkeys.
Hernanes, impressive throughout playing just behind Dybala and Alvaro Morata, notably stung Albano Bizzarri’s gloves with a superb drive, while Leonardo Bonucci and Roberto Pereyra both missed half-chances.
After several weeks out through injury, the still rusty Claudio Marchisio was replaced by the more effective Pogba at half-time and although the later introduction of Juan Cuadrado improved Juve’s prospects further, Chievo refused to lie down.
Seven minutes after the restart Buffon did well to push Cesar’s shot on to the post. At the other end, Pogba skewed his shot wide while in space to the left of goal.
Juve came closest to levelling minutes later when Pereyra collected Dybala’s threaded ball, powered into the area and unleashed a low drive, only to see it come off the base of the upright, with Pogba missing the rebound and Dybala skying his effort when it fell at his feet.
Cuadrado replaced Stefano Sturaro on 67 minutes, and the on-loan Chelsea forward made an immediate impact, collecting Morata’s flick-on to dribble his way into the box only to be shut out at the last second.
Cuadrado won a penalty after going down at the slightest of contact
Cuadrado’s most impressive feat, however, was winning a late penalty after what appeared to be the slightest of contact with the boot of Cesar.
Dybala made no mistake, smashing the ball past the goalkeeper and into the roof of the net to seal Juve’s first point of the season.
Juventus sit in 16th place while Chievo regained top spot, ahead of Roma on goal difference.
Chievo coach Rolando Maran lamented: “What can I say? We hoped to hold on and record what would have been a massive result for us.
“I can only be encouraged by how well the lads played against Juventus.”
Earlier, Roma prepared for Wednesday’s Group E clash against defending European champions Barcelona with a hard-fought 2-0 win away at Frosinone.
Iago Falque scored the opener for the Giallorossi, who rolled with the punches proffered by the league new boys before Juan Iturbe put the match beyond reach at the death with a fine individual strike.
Sunday’s programme will be dominated by the ‘Derby della Madonnina’, Inter hosting AC Milan at their shared San Siro ground.