Juventus 2-0 Spezia: Vlahovic scores another stunner in Bianconeri victory
Dusan Vlahovic scored another sublime free-kick and Arkadiusz Milik opened his Juventus account in a 2-0 Serie A victory over Spezia.
The in-form Vlahovic produced a carbon copy of his stunning strike in the draw against Roma last weekend to put Juve in front at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.
New signing Milik came off the bench to seal all three points in stoppage time with a clinical finish.
The Turin giants are unbeaten in four Serie A matches this season, but they suffered another injury blow when Wojciech Szczesny was carried off after landing awkwardly on his ankle in the first half.
Vlahovic produced another moment of pure class to open the scoring in the ninth minute, bending a sumptous free-kick into the top-right corner of the net from 25 yards out after Juan Cuadrado had been bundled over.
Spezia were struggling to live with the Bianconeri's high tempo, but there was more misfortune for Massimiliano Allegri's side when Szczesny damaged his ankle flapping at a corner and had to be replaced by Mattia Perin.
Cuadrado felt he should have had a penalty in first-half stoppage time, but referee Andrea Colombo adjudged that Petko Hristov made no contact with the Juve captain.
Fabio Miretti turned sharply on the edge of the box and had a shot deflected wide before the fit-again Angel Di Maria and Filip Kostic replaced Cuadrado and Moise Kean early in the second half.
The dangerous Vlahovic came close to a second goal with a downward header that almost crossed the line before Bartlomiej Dragowski palmed the ball to safety.
Danilo should have given Juve breathing space when he fired over the crossbar after bursting into the area, but Milik swivelled in the box after being picked out by a Miretti cross and finished superbly to put the icing on the cake.
What does it mean? Solid start for Juve with more to come
This was not a vintage performance from Juve, but they are not at full strength and resemble a side who are understandably a work in progress.
On the day they signed Leandro Paredes from Paris Saint-Germain, the Bianconeri produced an efficient display on the back of draws against Sampdoria and Roma.
Vlahovic on fire
If Juve are to mount a title challenge this season, Vlahovic will have a huge part to play.
The January signing from Fiorentina was razor sharp once again, stretching the Spezia defence with his intelligent runs. The 22-year-old hit the target with two of his three shots and was a constant menace.
Milik stakes claim for a start
Allegri last week brought in Milik to add more firepower and he was on target in only his second appearance for the club.
The Poland international replaced Vlahovic in the 85th minute and took his only chance superbly. With Kean unable to make an impact, Milik may have earned a start.
Key Opta Facts
– Spezia have become the fifth side against whom Juventus have won each of their first five Serie A meetings, after Chievo, Pescara, Sampierdarenese and Siena.
– Milik has become the 350th different scorer for Juventus in the Italian top flight.
– Juventus have scored two goals from direct free-kicks in the first four games played in Serie A this season, as many as they had in the previous three top-flight campaigns combined.
– Only three times in Serie A this season have a team failed to fire a single shot on target: Spezia have accounted for two of those (v Inter and v Juventus).
– Vlahovic is the fourth Juventus player to score a goal from a direct free-kick in two Serie A appearances in a row since 2004-05, when Opta first collected this data (also Pjanic, Pirlo and Del Piero).
– Vlahovic is the only left-footed player to have scored a direct free-kick goal in two successive Serie A appearances since 2004-05.
Juve travel to Fiorentina on Saturday, while Spezia are at home to Bologna on Sunday.