Kulusevski rescues point for Juventus against Verona

MILAN (AFP) – Dejan Kulusevski came off the bench to rescue a point as champions Juventus, playing without Cristiano Ronaldo, were held to a third Serie A stalemate at home against Hellas Verona early yesterday.

Portuguese forward Ronaldo remains absent after testing positive for coronavirus with Juventus preparing for next week’s Champions League tie against Barcelona in Turin.

“We had a too wait-and-see first half, we weren’t very aggressive with the midfielders but we had the most dangerous opportunities,” said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.

Substitute Andrea Favilli put Verona ahead after an hour in Turin but Swedish forward Kulusevski rescued Pirlo with 13 minutes to go.

“In the second half after the goal there was a good response, but we shouldn’t need a slap in the face to wake us up.

“When you play against Verona it’s hard for everyone, but we could have done better.”

Dejan Kulusevski celebrates his goal against Hellas Verona. PHOTO: AFP

To add to Pirlo’s problems before hosting Barcelona, defender Leonardo Bonucci went off with a thigh problem. Veteran Giorgio Chiellini is already out.

“He had already felt something on Tuesday (against Dynamo Kiev), he felt something again today,” said Pirlo.

“We will evaluate it tomorrow, calmly.”

Juventus are fifth in Serie A, three points behind leaders AC Milan.

The nine-time reigning champions have stalled under new coach Pirlo after winning their opener against Sampdoria, their only victory on the pitch in Serie A this season.

They drew against promoted Crotone 1-1 and 2-2 at Roma. Between those matched they were awarded a 3-0 victory after Napoli refused to travel to Turin on October 4 because of coronavirus cases.

At the match, Ebrima Colley had a goal ruled offside after quarter of an hour for Verona with the hosts also denied an Alvaro Morata goal for a marginal offside.

Favilli came on after 55 minutes and five minutes later had the visitors ahead finishing off a Mattia Zaccagni cross.

Morata missed another chance on 72 minutes. Paulo Dybala, making his return after three months, hit the crossbar five minutes later. Then Kulusevski beat Silvestri from an angle.

The Verona goalkeeper pulled off two late saves to stop Dybala and Morata.

Napoli moved up to second place, one point behind AC Milan, after a 2-1 win over promoted Benevento, a match in which brothers Lorenzo and Roberto Insigne scored for rival clubs.

“I’m very happy, but sorry my first goal in Serie A was against my brother,” said midfielder Roberto, 26, who opened the scoring after half an hour against his hometown club who he left two seasons ago for Benevento.