By 90Min
December 26, 2018

Juventus preserved their unbeaten run in Serie A after they fought back with a man behind to draw 2-2 with Atalanta at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia.

Berat Djimsiti's own-goal inside two minutes had put La Vecchia Signora in front, but Duván Zapata drilled home to level the score for the home side in the 24th minute.

Rodrigo Bentancur was then sent off for the visitors after receiving a second yellow card, eight minutes into the restart, before Zapata headed home his second of the match to put Atalanta ahead.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo came off the bench to head the ball home, following a corner in the 78th minute to salvage a point for Massimiliano Allegri's side.


ATALANTA


Key Talking Point


The home side were already weakened, following suspensions to regular centre-halves Rafael Tóloi and José Luis Palomino, and their absence was visibly evident, as one of the replacements Djimsiti put into his own net within the first couple of minutes.


However, Atalanta grew into the game and tried to feed Zapata, who was the focal point for the hosts up front. He was a handful against two experienced defenders, using his strength and pace to got the better of Leonardo Bonucci to slot home the leveller. He reacted well to head his side in front, following a corner, after their opponents went down to ten men.

Tullio M. Puglia/GettyImages

Atalanta were a threat up front, but spurned several opportunities which came back to bite them as substitute Ronaldo headed home to level the scores, which resulted after another defensive error.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Berisha (5); Mancini (5), Djimsiti (5), Masiello (5); Hateboer (5), Pašalić (6), Freuler (6), Castagne (5); Gómez (6); Iličić (6), Duván Zapata (8*).


Substitutes: Gosens (5), Pessina (N/A), Barrow (N/A)


STAR MAN - Zapata was terrific for the home side. He came up against two brilliant defenders and gave them a torrid time, with his pace and strength. He linked up well with his teammates and was clinical when given the opportunity, finishing with aplomb. On another night, he may have been the match-winner.

MARCO BERTORELLO/GettyImages

WORST PLAYER - Djimsiti's own-goal got the side off to the worst possible start against Juventus. That being said, the goal ensured his side responded to going behind. He did improve his performance as the game progressed, but he struggled to deal with crosses from out wide and was caught napping on a few occasions.


JUVENTUS


Key Talking Point


Ronaldo started on the bench, but that didn't seem to affect the side, initially. They had opened the scoring after Djimsiti's own-goal and Bentancur then saw an effort tipped onto the bar inside five minutes.

Yet, despite the pace and width provided by Douglas Costa and the threat of Paulo Dybala in the early stages, the Bianconeri became sloppy in possession and were overrun in midfield by their opponents, who were growing in confidence since the equaliser and finished the first half as the stronger side.


The league leaders were reduced to ten men after a late challenge from the already-booked Bentancur and matters got worse when some lacklustre defending from a corner allowed Zapata to put Atalanta in front, against the run of play.

Tullio M. Puglia/GettyImages

However, Ronaldo came off the bench to head home an equaliser, after the hosts failed to clear the lines from a corner.


Starting XI: Szczęsny (5); De Sciglio (6), Bonucci (5), Chiellini (5), Sandro (6); Khedira (5), Bentancur (5), Can (5); Dybala (5), Mandžukić (6), Costa (5).


Substitutes: Pjanić (5), Ronaldo (7*).


STAR MAN - Ronaldo came off the bench and made an impact. He won free-kicks in good locations, drew players out of position and rescued a point with his header, which could prove to be an important result by the end of the season.


He also sent in some dangerous deliveries attempting to find Mandžukić, who was close to connecting.

MARCO BERTORELLO/GettyImages

WORST PLAYER - Bentancur was daft to commit to the challenge that saw him receive a second booking and his marching orders. He was already on a yellow and knew the risk of making any mistimed challenges. On another day, it might have cost Juventus all three points, but Ronaldo's goal ensured they dropped just two.


Looking Ahead


Next up for Atalanta is a trip to ninth-placed Sassuolo, who have lost just once at home this campaign and are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions. 

Meanwhile, Juventus host fifth-placed Sampdoria, who are unbeaten in their last seven matches in all competitions and have won their last three games.

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