Lech Poznan entered Turin on Thursday with plenty of their enthusiastic supporters as well as determination against Serie A’s Juventus. A disappointing showing in support for the home fans foreshadowed the poor play of Juventus for their UEFA league opener.
Juventus looked superior early in the match yet failed to have successful runs toward the goal. The match took a dangerous turn of events for Juventus after Del Piero’s corner kick in the 12th minute led to a quick counter attack by Lech Poznan. A long diagnal ball from midfield was played to Peszko. After his first initial touch, Peszko attempted to cut the bouncing ball lateral but an unsuspecting Felipe Melo clipped him mid-air. Melo received a yellow card . Latvian native Rudnevs burried the penalty kick and gave Lech Poznan the surprising early lead.
With a one goal lead, Lech Poznan became more aggressive with their challenges. Fouls mounted as the visiting team tried to disrupt the Italian club’s style of play. Defensively, Poznan were slow to react to the more skilled Italian players. This further contributed to the amount of fouls being committed by Poznan. The visitors managed to hold off the Juventus and capitalized in the 30th minute on a three on three attack. Rudnevs initial shot from the center of the box was deflected off a Juventus player. Krivets was able to slide the ball out of the way of diving keeper, Manninger. Stilic took a quick shot that ricocheted off a Giorgio Chiellini knee right into the path of Rudnevs who had a wide open goal for an easy score.
Lech Poznan attempted to slow the match down and possess but the distribution between the midfield line and the defense was constantly intercepted by Juventus players. Around the 40th minute, Juventus began to press deep into their offensive side. Lech Pozan struggled with clearing out of the box and seemed to be now on their heels. With half time just seconds away, Juventus finally converted off a set piece when Del Piero delivered a towering ball towards three Lech Poznan players. Goal keeper, Kotorowski failed to call off Arboleda. As Arboleda attempted to head the ball clear, he poorly struck it to his left where Chiellini was able to finish. Kotorowski was caught behind Arboleda and had no chance at preventing the goal.
As the second half began, Juventus clearly had momentum with Del Piero leading the way. Juventus finally scored off a set piece as Chiellini finishes a Del Piero corner to equalize the match. Kotorowski came off his line in a very poor attempt to punch the ball away. The ball continued passed him and allowed Chiellini to redirect the ball into the net.
Action stayed consistently in the home side’s favor. Lech Poznan made the unwise decision of leaving Del Piero open just 40 yards away from goal. Del Piero’s long range bullet that curved into the right side of the goal, gave Juventus the lead in the 68th minute. Del Piero was clearly the leader tonight for Juventus. He was involved for all three goals.
Despite losing a two goal lead and being down a goal late in the match, Lech Poznan remained poised and followed through with their strategy. Juventus appeared to have a victory in sight when Poznan failed to score of a cross. Rudnevs header was just off target.
With time running out, Lech Poznan remained patient while trying to put together a final attack. Rudnevs received a ball on the right offensive flank and made a short diagnal pass forward to Joel Tshibamba. Sissoko made a costly error by not following Rudnevs after the pass. Rudnevs needed only one touch forward to earn his hat trick. His second touch was a rocketed left footed scorcher that found its way into the back of the net. Lech Poznan managed to equalize the match in extra time due to careless marking. Poznan did have one final attack that was stopped short with the referees whistle ending the match.
Lech Poznan never showed fear against the stronger Juventus side. As the tournament continues, Poznan’s will have to address defensive issues. Poor goal keeping by Kotorowski proved costly in this match. Kotorowski was often out of position, punching away balls he should have been collecting, and did not have command of his defense. Arboleda also struggled the entire match. He was late on many tackles, failed to effectively clear from his defensive third, and often sent 50/50 balls to the midfield.
Del Piero controlled the match for Juventus. His determination and effort allowed Juventus to fight their way back into the match. However, many players seemed to be only going through the motions without much effort. Juventus will need more players than just a handful to step up if they wish to proceed in this tournament. Juventus travels to Manchester City on September 30th while Lech Poznan takes on SV Salzburg.