Benevento stole a late winner to dent Juventus’s Serie A title hopes on Sunday as Adolfo Gaich’s strike sealed a shock 1-0 victory in Turin and ended the relegation battlers’ 11-match winless run.
The Argentine profited from a careless pass from Juve’s Arthur Melo to fire in the winner after 69 minutes, as the toothless hosts failed to find a way past goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo.
The defeat leaves the defending champions, Juve, in third place, 10 points behind leaders Inter Milan with 11 games remaining.
Benevento, however, boosted their survival hopes with the win as they moved seven points clear of the relegation zone in 16th position.
Andrea Pirlo’s side were unbeaten in their previous five league games but he could not prevail over his former AC Milan team-mate Filippo Inzaghi in the opposing dugout, despite the hosts mustering nine shots on target to Benevento’s one.
Juventus started the brighter side as Cristiano Ronaldo flashed a shot wide and Montipo denied Alvaro Morata with a diving save.
The hosts were also awarded a penalty for handball but the decision was overturned following a VAR review, and Ronaldo found the net only to be denied by the offside flag.
The Portuguese striker, who scored a hat-trick against Cagliari in his last game, was hungry for a goal and stung Montipo’s palms before volleying an effort narrowly wide on the turn.
But a catastrophic mistake from Arthur gifted the patient visitors the lead, as the Brazilian’s slack pass across his own penalty box was intercepted by Gaich, who finished into the bottom corner.
Ronaldo was Juve’s biggest threat as the hosts pushed for a late equaliser, but he could not beat Montipo. The goalkeeper stuck out a leg to deny one effort before parrying another which fell into the path of Danilo but the defender blasted the rebound over.
The strike also means he is now the oldest player to score 15 goals in a Serie A season, at 39 years and 169 days and sounded the starting gun to a frantic encounter in Florence.
The Swede scored inside the first 10 minutes after springing the offside trap in his first league appearance since picking up a muscle injury against AS Roma on February 28.
Erick Pulgar and Franck Ribery struck either side of the break to put the hosts in front, but goals from Brahim Diaz and Hakan Calhanoglu swung the contest back in Milan’s favour.
Later on Sunday, Dries Mertens netted his 100th Serie A goal as his double secured Napoli a 2-0 win away to top-four rivals Roma.
The Belgium forward scored a free-kick and headed home a second as Napoli raced into a two-goal lead after 34 minutes with the hosts failing to muster a response.
Mertens is only the third Napoli player to reach 100 goals in Serie A, after Marek Hamsik (100) and Antonio Vojak (102).
Serie A results
Sunday, 21st March 2021
- Verona 0-2 Atalanta
- Juventus 0-1 Benevento
- Sampdoria 1-0 Torino
- Udinese 0-1 Lazio
- Fiorentina 2-3 AC Milan
Roma 0-2 Napoli