Benevento stun Juventus 1-0 as pressure grows on Andrea Pirlo
Juventus’ hopes of retaining its Serie A title diminished as it surprisingly lost 1-0 at home to relegation-threatened Benevento on Sunday as the pressure grew still further on coach Andrea Pirlo.
“My future? The club will decide, I will continue to work day by day, match after match, to try to do my best,” Pirlo said.
“Then at the end everyone can draw their own conclusions.”
Adolfo Gaich scored in the 69th minute following a horrendous mistake from Juventus midfielder Arthur.
Juventus remained third, 10 points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan, which had its match against Sassuolo postponed because of coronavirus cases in the Nerazzurri camp. AC Milan can move to within six points of Inter with a win at struggling Fiorentina later.
“There wasn’t too much pressure, just the need to have a better match than this,” Pirlo said. “We had a bad match in every aspect. Our aim was to try to win playing better. Instead we ran into a bad day with our attitude and technical errors.”
Pirlo feels Juventus’ hopes of a record-extending 10th successive Serie A title are not over.
“We have to continue to believe in ourselves and focus on our own path and our own work,” he added. “Our aim hasn’t changed but we need to certainly change our mindset.”
The victory, perhaps Benevento’s biggest in its history, was the team’s first win since Jan. 6 and lifted Filippo Inzaghi’s side seven points clear of the relegation zone.
“I think that for Benevento it is something historic,” Inzaghi said. “I am happy for the president, the director, the fans and above all for the players, I knew they had the potential to do something crazy.
“Today they managed that and I am very happy, I think that this joy will remain inside them forever.”
Pirlo, who is in his first season as coach, was under increasing pressure after Juventus’ recent elimination from the Champions League by Porto.
Juventus struggled to make an impact on Benevento although it thought it had a penalty for a handball by visiting defender Daam Foulon in the 36th. However, the referee reversed his decision after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor.
Cristiano Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the net two minutes later but it was ruled out for offside.
Benevento took a shock lead when Arthur’s cross across his own area to Danilo was underhit and pounced on by Gaich, who gleefully turned it into the bottom left corner.
Ronaldo almost scored a stunning equalizer, nine minutes from time, but his overhead kick flew wide.
A new-look Atalanta won 2-0 at Hellas Verona to boost its chances of qualifying for next year’s Champions League.
Atalanta dominated after introducing a surprise new tactical system with Ruslan Malinovskyi and Duván Zapata scoring in the first half to help the team consolidate fourth place.
It moved level with Juventus and five points above Roma and Napoli, which face each other in the Italian capital later.
In Verona, Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini changed his formation, using four at the back for the first time since 2016.
His side dominated and eventually found the breakthrough in the 33rd minute when Verona defender Federico Dimarco handled in the box and Malinovskyi placed the resulting penalty into the bottom left corner.
Zapata almost doubled Atalanta’s lead shortly after but his effort was deflected onto the left post.
The Colombia forward did score three minutes before halftime when he outsprinted Matteo Lovato before placing an angled drive past Verona goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
Josip Iličić also hit the crossbar in stoppage time for Atalanta.
Lazio maintained its hopes of sneaking into the Champions League with a 1-0 win at Udinese.
The capital side moved to within six points of Atalanta and Juventus.
Sampdoria beat relegation-threatened Torino 1-0.