Juventus saw their hopes of an unbeaten season in Serie A come to an end as they slipped to a shock 2-0 defeat to Genoa at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday.
The referee awarded a penalty to Genoa within the opening half an hour but changed his decision after reviewing the incident on VAR, deciding that Joao Cancelo's apparent handball was not intentional.
VAR had an even bigger part to play within the first ten minutes of the second half. Paulo Dybala looked to have broken the deadlock for the visitors with a clinical strike following some static defending from Genoa, but the strike was chalked off for offside after further review.
On-loan midfielder Stefano Sturaro stunned Juventus as he fired Genoa ahead after 72 minutes against his parent club with a fierce long-range drive, just minutes after coming on as a substitute. The home side sealed the victory as Goran Pandev, another substitute, broke clear of the Juventus backline with ease before firing clinically past a helpless Mattia Perin.
Here's 90min's breakdown of the game.
Starting XI: Radu (6); Pereira (6), Romero (7), Zubas (7), Criscito (7); Lerager (6), Radovanovic (7), Rolon (6), Lazovic (7); Sanabria (6), Kouame (7)
Substitutes: Pandev (7), Sturaro (7), Veloso (6)
Key Talking Point
Having made six changes to the side which heroically overcame Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek, Massimiliano Allegri's side struggled to find their usual rhythm and control in the game.
Allegri opted for a more robust lineup with five across the middle of the park and just two up front, which provided the visitors with plenty of steel and resolve in central areas but not so much in the way of fluidity going forward.
The Bianconeri missed the commanding presence of Cristiano Ronaldo in attack, with the Portuguese's void resulting in an over-dependence on the hold-up play of Mario Mandzukic and limited the amount of space for Paulo Dybala to attack in the final third.
If you are a #Juve fan complaining about this first half then you need to go have word with yourself.— Elio Salerno (@eliosalerno87) March 17, 2019
1/ Who Cares?
2/ What did you expect after Tuesday?
3/ It’s been the same for every away game this season.
Have a day off, just watch your team.
Fantastic to see #Allegri using #Juventus’ depth in the squad today with this line up! We need to mix it up more in #SerieA to ensure we are at optimal level in #UCL! Hope #MoiseKean gets a good amount of time off the bench - fantastic talent we need to nature! #Juve #GenoaJuve https://t.co/RKcyGJrcPl— Amit Champaneri (@AmitChampaneri1) March 17, 2019
Genoa defended resolutely and largely created the better chances, as Juventus appeared to suffer something of a hangover from their midweek triumph. Conceding a stunning goal from their own loanee Sturaro largely summed up a disappointing afternoon for the Bianconeri.
Starting XI: Perin (5); Caceres (5), Bonucci (5), Rugani (6); Pjanic (6); Cancelo (5), Can (5), Bentancur (6), Alex Sandro (6); Dybala (6), Mandzukic (6)
Substitutes: Bernardeschi (6), Kean (5), Spinazzola (5)
STAR MAN - Federico Bernardeschi
In a performance in which Juventus looked tired, lethargic and short of quality and inspiration, no Bianconeri player registered anything close to an outstanding performance.
Having been one of the stars of the show (besides Ronaldo) against Atletico in midweek, Federico Bernardeschi was at least able to get his side playing forward after being brought on in an attempt from Allegri to push his side on.
Clearly #Juve had no desire to win this match resting #Ronaldo and many of their major stars and have their eyes set on the #UCL Quarter Finals. It's their first loss since last April and first of the season for @juventusfc. Congrats to #Genoa with the 2-0 win.— Tony Monaco (@TonyMonaco) March 17, 2019
I don't think this is the abscence of Ronaldo that has hurt #Juve against Geona. They've won 4-1 without Ronaldo. I think it is simply the team that underperformed & Dybala missed his opportunity.#GenoaJuve— Bhaarat Kurda (@TheBhaaratKurda) March 17, 2019
The Italian was unable to affect the result, but at least proved once more that he has the quality to raise the technical level of his side.