Italian Recap: McKennie and Juventus Rescue Dramatic Draw at Atalanta

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Weston McKennie and the Bianconeri were lucky to escape Bergamo with a draw, while Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann both saw action as Venezia finally broke their long winless streak.

Atalanta 1 – 1 Juventus

Staring down the barrel of a loss that would have dropped them out of the Champions League places, Juventus scored an equalizer at the death to share the points at Atalanta on Sunday night.

Weston McKennie started on the right side of a three-man midfield alongside Adrien Rabiot and Manuel Locatelli, putting in a solid 81-minute shift, particularly dangerous in the second half, completing nearly 90% of his 28 attempted passes, while setting up a number of close-calls for his teammates.

The first such instance came after 12 minutes when Dusan Vlahovic headed his cross from the center of the area wide left, then two minutes later he fed Paul Dybala in the area for a left-footed attempt that was even closer.

Despite McKennie’s early flurry, Atalanta were by and far the better team in the first half, holding the edge on posssession and looking the more likely to break through, with Teun Koopmeiners having a particularly effective outing just behind the forwards Luis Muriel and Jeremie Boga.

Nevertheless, the first half remained remarkably scoreless, and after the break, both Juventus and particularly McKennie came out with a renewed fire.

McKennie continued to be particularly menacing in the provider role, setting up Álvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala for distance attempts in the 52nd and 53rd minutes, then Vlahovic for a close call from inside the area in the 56th.

The closest was perhaps at the hour mark, as a fine build-up by the visitors ended with the American laying the ball off for Rabiot, whose left-footed attempt from 20 yards out was just wide right.

Despite this constant pressure, the hosts were finally the ones with reason to celebrate.

Matthijs de Ligt conceded a free kick for tripping up Ruslan Malinovskyi as he streaked forward, earning a yellow card in the process. On the attempt, Remo Freuler slightly back-heeled the ball giving Malinovskyi an extra couple yards for his run-up, and then the Ukrainian maestro proceeded utterly tear the leather off with unstoppable curling blast to the upper left corner.

As the game entered its final minutes, McKennie was pulled in favor of Moise Kean, however Atalanta looked as though they were set to hold on to what would be a remarkable second win over the Old Lady this season.

However, in the 92nd minute, Dybala lined up a last-ditch, inswinging corner from the right side, and Danilo rose the highest to meet it, sending his header towards the back post where it flew in to rescue the point.

Having successfully held on to fourth place, Juventus will only have five days of rest before they host crosstown rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole.

FC Torino 1 – 2 Venezia FC

Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann put in a tag-team performance on Saturday night, as Venezia finally showed some signs of life as their come-from-behind victory over FC Torino brought them closer to safety.

Busio got the starting nod by head coach Paolo Zanetti, lining up in the heart of the midfield directly flanked by Michaël Cuisance and Domen Crnigoj, however was pulled in favor of his compatriot Tessmann after 55 minutes.

The former Sporting KC player had a mostly anonymous game, only having 25 touches in his 55 minutes, completing only five of his 14 pass attempts, and picking up his fifth yellow card of the season – which will trigger a suspension in their next game.

Tessmann took up a more defensive role in place of Busio, however still had 15 touches, several long-ball attempts, and an overall respectable 60% passing rate.

Torino were off to a flying start, when chaos in the Venezia area saw Josip Brekalo strike a low shot that bounced off the fingertips of Venezia keeper Luca Lezzerino on its way into the net for the fifth-minute lead.

Unfazed by the early setback, Venezia held their own for the remainder of the first half, and equalized in the 38th minute when left back Ridgeciano Haps blasted forward and headed in a fine cross from Domen Crnigoj at the far post.

The Slovenian international Crnigoj then continued his fine game after the break, putting Venezia ahead in the 46th minute in style. Mattia Aramu received a throw-in from Haps to the left of the penalty area and whipped a cross in towards the penalty spot. Crnigoj drifted in from the top edge of the area and emphatically smacked the shot with his first touch, sending a laser directly to the upper corner for the 2-1 advantage.

The hosts were celebrating an equalizer at the end of regulation when Andrea Belotti got his head onto a long free kick, but much to their dismay, it was called back after a lengthy VAR review showed Simone Zaza’s foot to have been offside as the kick was taken.

In the end, Venezia held on for the win, although not without damage, as David Okereke was sent off for recklessly stomping on the ankle of a Torino player, which will surely result in a multi-game suspension for the team’s joint top-scorer.

Venezia still remain in the bottom three after the victory, however with Cagliari only managing a draw at Empoli, they are equal on points and only trail by way of head-to-head record, and with a game-in-hand.

They have a strong chance to improve their position on Sunday when they host second-bottom Genoa.

AC Perugia 3 – 0 Frosinone

Andrija Novakovich and Frosinone had a rough afternoon in Perugia on Saturday afternoon, getting shut out by a three-goal margin to lose ground in the race to climb into one of Serie B’s automatic promotion spots.

Novakovich started the game, played 86 minutes as the center forward and managed four shots while on the field, however only one of those was on-target. Otherwise, he had a decent all-around performance, completing 14 of his 18 passing attempts amidst 39 total touches, while being forced to put in quite a bit of work on the defensive end.

Perugia practically secured the result already midway through the first half, with Manuel de Luca taking advantage of a gaffe between keeper and defender in the 15th minute to slot home into an open net, then Marco Olivieri deftly threading the needle between several defenders with his low 12-yard shot for 2-0 in the 23rd.

Frosinone prevented any further damage until the dying seconds, keeping pressure on their hosts as they attempted to cut the lead, but were forced to pick the ball out of their own nets a third time, with de Luca slipping behind the defense and hitting from just beyond the six-yard box to seal the 3-0 victory.

Frosinone drop to sixth, still firmly within the promotion playoff group, and will be back on the field in a midweek game on Wednesday as they host Como.


Guiseppe Barone was nowhere to be found for Ascoli on Sunday afternoon as they managed a 1-1 home draw against Como. Anthony Fontana is rumored to be confirmed as a free-transfer signing by Ascoli any day now, however will not be immediately available due to injury.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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