Mario Mandzukic was influential again for Juventus as they overcame a resilient Parma outfit on Saturday.
Juventus were made to work hard for a 2-1 win at Parma that maintains their perfect start to the Serie A season.
The champions looked on course for a comfortable evening when Mario Mandzukic netted after two minutes, but Parma made life difficult for their 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 hosts could have led at the interval, before their momentum waned following the restart.
There was still no breakthrough for Juve new boy Cristiano Ronaldo, though, as his barren start to life in Italy continues beyond an international break during which he will miss action for Portugal.
The visitors were quick off the mark, with Mandzukic meeting Juan Cuadrado’s pinpoint cross and then beating the recovering Simone Iacoponi to the loose ball to stab into the net.
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 an enticing Massimo Gobbi delivery, evaded Wojciech Szczesny, who at least prevented Luca Rigoni from completing a first-half turnaround.
But a moment of real quality saw Juve reclaim their 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.
What it means: A title race?
Juventus were 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.
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 their 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.
Pareggio Parma! Arriva il primo gol in campionato di Gervinho!
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA) September 1, 2018