Leaders Juventus held to first draw of the season


Juventus missed the chance to go 10 points clear at the top of Serie A after being held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese.

Duvan Zapata scored the opening goal after 37 minutes and it was no more than the home side deserved; Luigi Delneri's men looked the better team for long periods at the Stadio Communale Friuli.

Massimiliano Allegri's champions looked disjointed and lacked their usual fluency in attack, while Udinese's pressing game and well-organised defence further restricted their opportunities to score.

The equaliser left a sour taste for Udinese, who felt that Dani Alves did not deserve to win the free-kick that Paulo Dybala landed on the head of Leonardo Bonucci, who scored with aplomb.

Delneri was sent to the stands for his protests in the aftermath of the goal, but he watched his side hold out for a deserved point while Juventus laboured to their first draw of an otherwise impressive Serie A season.

Juventus tried to patiently unpick Udinese early on, first testing goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis when Miralem Pjanic struck a speculative 25-yard shot that was comfortably saved, but Seko Fofana's dangerous counter-attacks disrupted the league leaders' flow.

Fofana linked up well with Rodrigo de Paul to create space around the Juventus box and Bianconeri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon dealt with a couple of early shots that skidded off the slick surface.

Udinese were dealt a hammer blow when Fofana's afternoon ended prematurely due to an ankle injury sustained in a challenge with Alex Sandro, but before Delneri could send on a replacement his side took the lead.

The goal was all down to the determination of Zapata, who outmuscled and outpaced Bonucci on his way into the box before drilling a low shot that squirmed under the body of Buffon and into the net.

Juventus had barely threatened the Udinese goal before they scored the equaliser in controversial circumstances on the hour mark.

Alves won a free-kick after going down under an innocuous-looking challenge from Stipe Perica, and Dybala subsequently crossed to the far post where Bonucci powered the ball into the net from close range.

Udinese attempted to restore their lead immediately and Jakub Jankto's looping free-kick found Danilo, whose header struck the post before Juventus cleared their lines.

Bonucci came to the rescue for a second time but in his customary defensive role when Zapata broke down the left and crossed towards his onrushing team-mates, but the Juventus goal-scorer stretched out a leg to turn the ball out for a corner.

Delneri rang the changes in the closing stages, sending on a raft of defensive players to see out the draw, while Allegri was left to reflect on a performance that will need to be bettered if Juventus are to win their forthcoming clash with AC Milan.

Key Opta stats:
- Dani Alves made the most touches (91), the most tackles (4), the most duels (14) and the most crosses (6) among Juventus players vs Udinese.
- Prior to this Juventus had not drawn for 38 consecutive Serie A games (last time vs Bologna, February 2016).
- Gianluigi Buffon played his 612 Serie A game (equalling in third place Francesco Totti): Javier Zanetti is only three games away (615).
- Juventus have trailed three times at half-time in Serie A this season: they have not won any of the games.
- Juventus have scored at least one goal in the last 18 Serie A games (39 goals in total).

Source Omnisport