Cristiano Ronaldo was Juventus’ saviour as he came off the bench to earn the Bianconeri a 2-2 draw against Atalanta on Boxing Day, and keep their unbeaten start to the Serie A season going.
It was the first time this season that Ronaldo hadn’t started for Juventus in Serie A, as Bianconeri coach Massimiliano Allegri looked to shake things up over Christmas.
Going into the match, Atalanta hadn’t beaten Juventus for 27 Serie A matches, and things started badly for La Dea when Berat Djimsiti put into his own net after just two minutes.
From there though, Atalanta slowly worked their way back into the match and Zapata got on the end of a Papu Gomez pass, went past Leonardo Bonucci and beat Wojciech Szczesny to level the score midway through the first half.
That seemed to give Gian Piero Gasperini’s men a renewed vigour and the pendulum swung in their favour early in the second half when Rodrigo Bentancur picked up a second yellow card after fouling Timoty Castagne.
Three minutes after that, Atalanta were in the lead as Zapata got himself free of Emre Can and bundled a Gomez corner home, to send the Atalanta fans wild.
However, the introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo, who came on with 25 minutes to play, changed things for Juve, and he headed in the equaliser – his 12th of the season – after a corner ricocheted off Giorgio Chiellini.
Dramatically in the final minutes of the game, Juventus had the ball in the back of the net once more thanks to Bonucci, who was correctly judged to have been offside, and thus the goal was ruled out.
DUVAN’S ON FIRE, SERIE A IS TERRIFIED
Two goals against Serie A’s meanest defence is no mean feat for the Colombian, who is arguably in the form of his life. Zapata has scored eight goals with his last eight shots on target, he has scored in five Serie A games in a row for the first time, and continued his habit of scoring against Juventus, given he has hit the net in his last three Serie A home games against the Old Last, with Udinese, Sampdoria and Atalanta. A point may not have helped Atalanta too much in the race for Europe, but with Duvan on fire like this, #EUAtalanta is a real hope for La Dea fans everywhere again.
RONALDO IS UNTOUCHABLE
Despite spending 65 minutes of the match on the bench, Ronaldo will once again dominate the headlines as his goal saved the Bianconeri’s unbeaten streak. It also raises plenty of questions regarding his influence over the Bianconeri side. Clearly, they have enough in their locker to take on the likes of Atalanta and win, but the sight of their new talisman sitting in the stands may have spooked his teammates, as even with 10-men and Ronaldo on the field, they looked dangerous. Ronaldo doesn’t do the bench, in fact the last time he started a league match on the sidelines was in 2013, so maybe this in an experiment that Allegri may not repeat unless forced to.