Turin, September 30
Italy forwards Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi ran consistently through the heart of Chelsea’s defense, Romelu Lukaku was held in check, and Juventus convincingly beat the injury-depleted trophy defender 1-0 in the Champions League.
Ten seconds into the second half on Wednesday, Chiesa sprinted onto a through ball from Bernardeschi and beat defender Antonio Rudiger to score from a difficult angle.
“It should be impossible to concede an easy goal like this at this level in the first seconds of the second half,” Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said.
“You know what’s coming, you have a defensive organization like we have, so normally at all times it should be possible to defend it. And we got punished for it, of course.”
Bernardeschi nearly made it 2-0 when he tripped just as he was about to redirect a cross from Juan Cuadrado.
“We showed the real Juve spirit,” Chiesa said.
“We tried to attack deep and into the open spaces.”
It wasn’t until the 75th minute that a decent cross found its way to Lukaku, who Chelsea bought for a club record $135 million in August. But the Belgium striker’s ensuing header went well wide.
Lukaku had a close chance in the 83rd but again missed the target.
Juventus took control of Group H with a full six points. Chelsea and Zenit St. Petersburg has three points each and Malmo has zero.
Earlier, Zenit cruised to a 4-0 win over 10-man Malmo.
Juventus’ perfect start in Europe contrasts sharply with the Bianconeri’s struggles in Serie A, where they have won just two of six matches.
“Let’s enjoy this tonight but then we’ve got to focus on Saturday’s derby (against Torino),” Chiesa said.
It marked a second consecutive defeat for Chelsea, which was beaten 1-0 at home by Manchester City on Saturday.
It was also Chelsea’s first loss in 12 Champions League group matches.
Chelsea was without the injured Reece James, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic, while missed the N’Golo Kante trip after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Juventus also had injury concerns with Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata both out.
But Chiesa and Bernardeschi, key members of Italy’s run to the European Championship title, made sure they weren’t missed.
Matteo Pessina, another member of the victorious Italy team, scored in Atalanta’s 1-0 win over Young Boys. — AP