Serie A: January signings deliver for Juventus
Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria enjoyed dream Juventus debuts as the two January signings scored in a 2-0 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday, sending the Turin club fourth in Serie A.
Serbia international Vlahovic, who joined Juve from Fiorentina in a deal worth up to $92 million on January 28, opened the scoring with a perfectly weighted lob after 13 minutes.
It was the 22-year-old’s 18th goal of the season, drawing him level with Lazio’s Ciro Immobile as the league’s joint top scorer, and he came close to a second before half-time in an impressive Bianconeri bow. Things got even better for Massimiliano Allegri’s side after the break when deadline day arrival Zakaria sprinted forward from midfield to hammer a shot into the bottom corner.
“The most important thing is to score goals, but I also want to improve in every way and help the team,” Vlahovic said. “Allegri didn’t ask me to do anything in particular, he just said to stay calm and not be anxious, that everything would be fine.”
Juventus climbed two points above Atalanta into fourth place with 45 points, eight behind leaders Inter Milan, while Verona are ninth with 33 points. Allegri’s side are unbeaten in 10 league games and the arrival of Vlahovic has sparked debate about whether they can get back into the title race this season. “Juve always aim for the highest objectives. When every competition starts, Juve aim to win it,” Vlahovic said.
“That is why I’m here, to help and give my contribution. We will go game by game and at the end of the season we will see where we are.”
The anticipation at Vlahovic’s debut was palpable in the Allianz Stadium. The home crowd didn’t have to wait long to get their first taste of what the Serbian offers, as his fierce shot was palmed away by a flying Lorenzo Montipo early on.
Five minutes later, Vlahovic showed his class by racing after a Paulo Dybala pass and guiding a perfect lob over the outrushing Montipo and into the bottom corner. The Serbian’s physicality caused problems for the Verona defence throughout the first half, and he almost got a second when he steered a shot wide from an Alvaro Morata cross.
Morata was the creator for Juve’s second after 61 minutes, driving through the centre of the pitch and picking out Zakaria’s run, and the Switzerland international took a touch before driving home a finish.