No Ronaldo No problem. Alvaro Morata with the brace and Adrien Rabiot with the equalizer erased an early Lazio goal and Juventus woke up midway through the first half and continued the momentum in the second half to cruise to an easy 3-1 victory at the Allianz Stadium.
This was a huge match for the top four, but also a few days before the Champions League, so both had to make big changes. Cristiano Ronaldo was not at 100 percent, so initially left on the bench with Leonardo Bonucci, while Paulo Dybala, Giorgio Chiellini, Matthijs de Ligt, and COVID-positive Rodrigo Bentancur missed out. The Aquile lost Manuel Lazzari, Luiz Felipe and Stefan Radu, so Adam Marusic was used in a three-man defence. Andrea Pirlo pulled some more surprises, as he seemed to place Danilo in midfield for a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Mohamed Fares caught Cuadrado in possession during the opening minutes only to then fire over the bar, then Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s free-kick whistled wide of the far top corner.
Lazio started much stronger and took a deserved lead when Dejan Kulusevski gave it away cheaply, Joaquin Correa surged forward, twisted, and turned to eventually drill the finish between Merih Demiral’s legs into the near bottom corner.
Wojciech Szczesny had to get down to push away a Milinkovic-Savic effort, but Juventus had penalty appeals on 26 minutes. It was a fantastic Francesco Acerbi sliding tackle on Federico Chiesa, but the ball ricocheted up and onto Wesley Hoedt’s hand. The referee and VAR waved play on, considering it an unintentional handball.
Aaron Ramsey curled off-target and Alvaro Morata nodded a free-kick wide, but Juve got their equalizer with a sensational finish from Adrien Rabiot.
He burst down the left, Pepe Reina expected the cross and took one step forward, which opened up just enough of a gap for Rabiot to hit a rocket into the near top corner from an improbable angle.
It remained wide open, as Fares again threatened with a ferocious strike just off target. After the restart, Chiesa went on an extraordinary slalom through the Lazio defense, twisting and turning until he forced a one-handed Reina to save at the near post.
Moments later, it was a huge threat at the other end, Correa on a mazy run making Szczesny rush off his line, then Milinkovic-Savic’s header thumping the crossbar.
There were more penalty appeals when Morata went down while trying to turn Marusic, Lazio wasted a counter-attack from that incident, but then Juve countered again with Chiesa breaking away from Gonzalo Escalante and sending Morata clear to fire into the near top corner.
Up next: Juventus faces Porto in the second leg tie on Tuesday.
The game turned on its head, as moments after that Milinkovic-Savic foolishly bundled into the back of Ramsey for a penalty. The Welshman wanted to take it, but Cuadrado took the ball out of his hands and Morata converted to complete a brace in three minutes.
Lazio kept pushing, Immobile stinging Szczesny’s gloves from outside the box, Correa firing wide, and Fares hitting the side-netting.