Arthur Melo’s mistake proved costly as Juventus succumbed to a shock 1-0 defeat to Benevento at the Allianz Stadium in Serie A on Sunday.
The first half-hour was a tepid affair as both teams created little of note. However, Juventus started to ask some questions as the game wore on, with Alvaro Morata and Matthijs de Ligt having shots saved while Dejan Kulusevski had a penalty shout overturned after it was initially awarded. Cristiano Ronaldo then had a goal ruled out for offside as the first half ended goalless.
The second half also started pretty much the same way the first one had with neither team providing any goal threat. Juventus continued to dominate possession but weren’t able to create any openings and that hurt them big time as Adolfo Gaich pounced on a loose pass from Arthur Melo to put Benevento in the lead in the 69th minute.
Juventus pushed hard in search of an equaliser with Ronaldo twice testing the Benevento custodian, but a goal was not forthcoming as the minnows secured a huge win over the reigning champions, further denting their hopes in the title race. Here’s how we rated the performances of Andrea Pirlo’s men on a disappointing afternoon at the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus have lost a Serie A game to Benevento for the first time in their history.
What a result for Filippo Inzaghi’s men. pic.twitter.com/5TI9vW9DdJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 21, 2021
Wojciech Szczesny: 5/10
The former Arsenal goalkeeper was hardly called into action in the first half as Benevento did not create any serious goalscoring opportunity. Not a lot he could have done as Gaich scored the only goal of the game.
Picked at right-back in Juan Cuadrado’s absence, the Brazilian failed to offer very little in terms of attacking intent on the right. Needed to be stronger in his challenge to stop Gaich from scoring then blazed a late chance over. Not good enough.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
Had a few problems up against Gianluca Lapadula but fairly solid for the most part, making a couple of interceptions and a tackle. Distributed well from the back as well.
Matthijs de Ligt: 7/10
One of the few positives on the afternoon for Juventus, de Ligt was a solid figure at the heart of the Juventus defence. Dominant in the air, the Dutchman won as many as nine aerial duels while he also effected a couple of tackles and three clearances. In addition, he also came close to scoring in the first half, but was denied by the opposition goalkeeper.
Federico Bernardeschi: 5/10
Playing in a makeshift left-back position, the Italian failed to make any sort of impact on the night. Not good enough defensively as the visitors saw some joy on his side and contributed little towards the attacking side of things.
Dejan Kulusevski: 6/10
Looked bright with his movement early on and delivered a good cross to Ronaldo, who had drifted offside. Completed six dribbles and made three key passes but faded as the game wore on though and was unable to create much of note.
Arthur Melo: 4/10
BENEVENTO TAKE THE LEAD AGAINST JUVENTUS 😲 pic.twitter.com/qbaoLYMyEI
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 21, 2021
His difficult first season in Turin continued on Sunday. Hadn’t done much of note for the first hour of the game but made a huge mistake as he played a sloppy ball across his own box to allow Gaich to intercept and score the only goal of the game. Did his bit to help Juventus control possession but wasn’t able to carve out openings and his error proved to be fatal in the end.
Adrien Rabiot: 5/10
Won a few duels in the air and on the ground but apart from that, the Frenchman wasn’t able to make any decisive impact on the proceedings. Saw quite a bit of the ball but wasn’t able to provide that defence-splitting pass that Juventus so much craved on the afternoon. Needs to do better.
Federico Chiesa: 5/10
A rare off day for the Italian livewire, who was time and again crowded out by the Benevento defenders. Had a penalty claim turned down in the second half and played a couple of key passes that led to nothing.
Alvaro Morata: 5/10
The Spaniard’s form has been on a sharp decline of late and it continued on Sunday. Did well to carve out a chance and take a shot at goal in the first half. But that was as good as it got for him on the afternoon.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 5/10
Maurizio Croceetti (Journalist):
"I think that Cristiano Ronaldo has never played for a team weaker than this throughout his life."pic.twitter.com/t9my7eiXoJ
— The CR7 Timeline. (@TimelineCR7) March 21, 2021
The Player to Watch in our match preview, Ronaldo came into the game on the back of a brilliant hat-trick against Cagliari. However, he wasn’t able to carry that form forward on Sunday with Benevento doing well to deny him spaces for the most part. Did manage to fire a couple of shots but none of them troubled the goalkeeper. Failed to provide the inspiration that Juve needed.
Weston McKennie: 5.5/10
Came on for Rabiot in the 73rd minute. Tried to add a bit more forward impetus from midfield but to little avail.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 5/10
Replaced Arthur in the 73rd minute. Made a few strong tackles, won three aerial duels. Booked.