Parma 1 Juventus 2: Host downed but Ronaldo's wait goes on

Juventus was made to work hard for a 2-1 win at Parma that maintains its perfect start to the Serie A season.

France international Blaise Matuidi provided a superb finish from a tight angle to give Juventus a 2-1 win over Parma in the Serie A.   -  AFP

Juventus was made to work hard for a 2-1 win at Parma that maintains its perfect start to the Serie A season.

The champion looked on course for a comfortable evening when Mario Mandzukic netted after two minutes, but Parma made life difficult for its esteemed guests until the former Croatia international intervened again to tee up Blaise Matuidi's winner.

Gervinho had drawn Parma level on his full debut and the host could have led at the interval, before its momentum waned following the restart.

 

There was still no breakthrough for Juve new boy Cristiano Ronaldo, as his barren start to life in Italy continues beyond an international break during which he will miss action for Portugal.

The visitor was quick off the mark, with Mandzukic meeting Juan Cuadrado's pinpoint cross and then beating the recovering Simone Iacoponi to the loose ball and stab it into the net.

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That sensational start suggested a Juve romp was on the cards, but Leo Stulac's swirling free-kick soon crashed against the crossbar and a Parma equaliser followed before the break.

Gervinho was on hand to turn the ball over the line after Roberto Inglese's header from a Massimo Gobbi delivery, evaded Wojciech Szczesny, who prevented Luca Rigoni from completing a first-half turnaround.

 

But a moment of real quality saw Juve reclaim its lead and ultimately win the match just before the hour-mark as Mandzukic flicked into Matuidi's path and the France international provided a superb finish from a tight angle.

Juventus hosts Sassuolo following the international break, with its Champions League bid starting in Valencia days later. The season gets no easier for Parma, which heads to Inter next.

What it means: A title race?

Juventus was pushed all the way by Napoli last term, but the pre-season suggestion was that Ronaldo's presence alone could stop a title race in its tracks. Although that may yet be the case and they have three wins from three, the Bianconeri have shown a soft underbelly in all three matches so far this term. There is cause for optimism for the chasing pack.

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Pat on the back: Gervinho threatens to steal the show

Of the two ex-Premier League wide men on show on Saturday, Gervinho was undoubtedly the star of the show. Parma looked like cannon fodder after just two minutes, but its full debutant turned the tide with his slaloming runs, netted the equaliser and almost created a second goal before his withdrawal allowed Juventus to ease to victory.

Parma debutant Gervinho turned the tide with his slaloming runs, netted the equaliser and almost created a second goal before his withdrawal.   -  AP

 

Boot up the backside: The wait goes on

This is not the first time Ronaldo has endured a slow start to a season and, such is his quality, the goals will surely follow. But in a competitive Serie A this term, Juventus could have done with its new talisman making an early breakthrough. A couple of wayward first-half headers represented the extent of Ronaldo's threat in another underwhelming display.

In another underwhelming display from Cristiano Ronaldo, he was unable to open his Serie A account after three games.   -  Getty Images

 

Key Opta stats:

- Juventus has won all of its first three games of Serie A in four of the last six campaigns and three seasons in a row for the first time in its history.
- Mario Mandzukic has found the net in two Serie A games in a row for the first time since November 2016.
- Blaise Matuidi has scored three of his four Serie A goals in matches away from home
- The last time Juventus found the net in the opening two minutes of a Serie A match was in November 2013 (Fernando Llorente versus Napoli).
- Gervinho has scored his first goal in Serie A since November 2015 (versus Lazio), and his first versus Juventus in his five league games played against them.

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