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In a commanding display, Juventus dismantled a struggling Empoli side at the Stadio Carlo Castellani on Sunday evening, securing a convincing 2-0 victory as they signed off in style before the international break. From the outset, there was never a shred of doubt about the outcome of this contest.
Juventus entered this fixture with a score to settle after last season’s devastating 4-1 defeat at the Carlo Castellani. Eager to make amends for their lackluster 1-1 home draw against Bologna just a week ago and seeking vengeance in the process, Massimiliano Allegri had victory firmly in his sights.
However, Juventus adopted a measured approach right from the beginning. Allowing Empoli to settle comfortably in the game was a calculated risk, given the lessons learned from their previous visit to Tuscany last April. With Paul Pogba once again on the bench, the Bianconeri initially grappled with a lack of creativity in the opening stages.
One of the standout attributes of Allegri’s tenure is Juventus’ proficiency at scoring from set-pieces. With this in mind, it came as no surprise when the visitors broke the deadlock following Filip Kostic’s corner-kick delivery. Captain Danilo exhibited keen awareness and poacher’s instincts, capitalizing on a goalmouth scramble inside Empoli’s six-yard box to put Juventus ahead in the 24th minute.
Dusan Vlahovic, who had been in blistering form at the start of the season, had a golden opportunity to extend his side’s lead in the 39th minute. Youssef Maleh brought down Federico Gatti inside the box, resulting in an immediate penalty decision by referee Giovanni Ayroldi. However, Empoli goalkeeper Etrit Berisha denied Vlahovic’s attempt.
Considering everything that transpired in the first half, Juventus could count themselves unlucky to enter the break with only a 1-0 advantage. The Bianconeri’s profligacy in front of goal did not come back to haunt them, as Empoli appeared lost and powerless in attack, much as they did in their first two matches. Paolo Zanetti’s squad went into the game as the only Serie A team yet to score this season, and their performance on the night made it easy to see why.
Juventus came close to doubling their lead early in the second half through the in-form Federico Chiesa. The Italian winger surged past his markers and found himself one-on-one with Berisha but failed to find the target. Vlahovic, Chiesa’s striking partner, had a challenging evening. After squandering a first-half penalty, he had an assist disallowed by VAR.
Vlahovic chested down Chiesa’s lofted ball inside the box and deftly laid it off to Paul Pogba, whose thunderous half-volley found the back of the net. However, VAR detected that the Serbian star was marginally offside. It was merely a matter of time before Juventus would increase their lead. Empoli found no respite in the 82nd minute, as Chiesa scored a well-deserved goal to seal the game.
Despite making all five substitutions in the second half, Zanetti failed to revitalize his disheartened side. Empoli appeared clueless in the final third and will head into the international break as the only team in Serie A yet to score. As for Juventus, they responded admirably to last week’s disappointment against Bologna and remain within striking distance of the leading duo, Milan and Inter.