Gianluca Busio’s strong outing helped Venezia to register their first Serie A win in nearly 20 years, while Weston McKennie was unable to prevent Juventus from falling to new lows.
FC Empoli 1 – 2 Venezia FC
Gianluca Busio was once again in Venezia’s starting lineup, and played an integral part in setting up the team’s opening goal on Saturday as they defeated Empoli to climb out of the league’s basement.
Tanner Tessmann did suit up for the visitors, however was an unused substitute for the game.
After performing strongly enough in his debut two weeks before to dispel any doubts that he was ready for Serie A’s level of competition, Busio once again was an active part of the team’s attack, competing 81% of his passes, winning one aerial duel, and generally putting on a crisp display over his 90+ minutes on the field.
After getting shut out in their first two games of the Serie A season, Venezia wasted no time in taking the initiative against fellow promoted team Empoli by jumping to the lead within the first quarter-hour.
Dennis Tørset Johnsen pulled down a pass from David Schnegg while storming down the left flank and ventured dangerously into the left edge of the area. Empoli defender Petar Stojanovic looked to have handled the danger well and attempted to clear the ball from near the corner flag, but hit it more weakly than intended directly into the path of Busio.
The young American adeptly scooped up the loose ball and precisely tapped it to Mattia Aramu with his second touch, who then fired a perfect cross across the face of goal for Thomas Henry to put away with his sliding charge.
After holding their hosts at bay for nearly the next hour, Venezia effectively sealed the win in the 68th minute in jaw-dropping fashion. Following a well-defended Empoli attempt at goal, Henry controlled the clearance and fed a pass to David Okereke in the defensive half of the field. The Nigerian U23 player, who only entered the game seconds before, then proceeded to weave and cut through the entire Empoli defense before unleashing a perfectly-hit left-footed shot past the spellbound keeper’s outstretched fingers.
The hosts did manage to pull one back with one minute left in regulation after Venezia keeper Niki Mäenpää toppled Liam Henderson on a late charge, however Nedim Bajrami’s successful spot kick was little more than a final consolation for the disappointed home fans.
The victory, Venezia’s first in the top flight since February, 2002, brings them to a respectable 14th in the standings after three games played. They will try to make it two in a row when they host bottom-feeders La Spezia on Sunday.
SSC Napoli 2 – 1 Juventus
After an abbreviated international break, Weston McKennie was back in the Juventus starting lineup on Saturday evening as they fell at Napoli, extending their winless streak to three games.
The visitors were well on their way to what looked to be a valuable win on the road when Álvaro Morata picked the ball off of the foot of Napoli defender Konstantinos Manolas deep in their territory, and made fine work of his angled shot from the left edge of the six-yard box for the 1-0 lead after 10 minutes.
However, there would be little reason for the Juventus fans to rejoice thereafter, as Napoli sealed the win with a pair of goals after the break.
The hosts evened the score three minutes before the hour mark when Lorenzo Insigne’s shot was weakly blocked by Wojciech Szczesny directly into the path of Matteo Politano, who made no mistake with his follow-up from the left side of goal.
They then nabbed the winning goal five minutes from full time, this time with a comical display of set-piece defending by Juventus. A corner kick from the left side was errantly headed towards his own goal by Juve’s Moise Kean. Szczesny was barely able to avert the own goal, but batted the ball directly to the foot of Kalidou Koulibaly for an easy finish.
McKennie had already been pulled out in favor of Aaron Ramsey in the 72nd minute, and had a fairly underwhelming performance overall (one shot combined with only 70% passes completed) with little of the usual danger that made him a fan favorite for Juve last season.
The result matches their worst ever start in over half a century, however the team can take solace that the last time this occurred – the 2015-16 season – they blew through the rest of their season to easily win the title.
Nevertheless, this leaves them at a disappointing 16th place after three rounds, with a visit to Malmö FF in Champions League action Tuesday, followed by a difficult home game against Milan five days later.
Bryan Reynolds was an 88th-minute substitute for Roma on Sunday evening as they rode a 91st minute winner against Sassuolo to the top of the Serie A table with a 2-1 home victory in head coach Jose Mourinho’s 1000th game at the helm. Reynolds will be hoping to be more involved in team action in their European campaign, which sees them hosting ZSKA Sofia on Thursday evening.
Andrija Novakovich returned to Frosinone’s gameday squad after missing the first few games due to injury, but was not called into action for their scoreless draw against visiting Perugia on Saturday.
Giuseppe Barone was not in Ascoli’s squad on Saturday for their 1-0 road win over Como.