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Villarreal 1-1 Juventus: Vlahovic strikes on Champions League debut
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Dusan Vlahovic and Raul Albiol vie for the ball
Dusan Vlahovic and Raul Albiol vie for the ball

Dusan Vlahovic scored on his Champions League debut as Juventus were held to a 1-1 draw by Villarreal in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

The former Fiorentina striker broke the deadlock after just 32 seconds at El Madrigal, netting the fastest goal in the competition by a full debutant.

But Juve were pegged back when Dani Parejo capitalised on sloppy defending by equalising in the 66th minute.

Neither side could then find a winner, leaving the tie finely poised ahead of the return leg in Turin on March 16.

Leading the line in the Champions League for the first time since his move from Fiorentina, Vlahovic wasted no time in making his mark. 

Latching onto Danilo's long ball, he brilliantly slotted into the far corner past Geronimo Rulli, becoming only the second Juventus player to find the net in the opening minute of a match in the competition.

Villarreal looked to respond in the 13th minute; Alfonso Pedraza embarked on a driving run into the box before feeding Giovani Lo Celso, who was denied by the post.

Wojciech Szczesny was then called into action as he produced smart reflexes to block Arnaut Danjuma's clever flick towards goal.

The hosts turned up the pressure after the break and were rewarded with an equaliser midway through the second half.

Completely unmarked, Parejo collected Etienne Capoue's lofted ball into the area before neatly sweeping past Szczesny.

Adrien Rabiot was fortunate to avoid further punishment when booked for his rash challenge on Samuel Chukwueze, and Juve held on as Villarreal enjoyed a greater share of possession as the clock ticked down.

What does it mean? Everything to play for

Juventus have progressed from six of their past eight two-legged ties against Spanish opposition in the Champions League.

But the Bianconeri will be disappointed not to have built on their flying start at El Madrigal, aiming only one further shot on target after Vlahovic's strike.

However, despite the hard-earned draw, Villarreal coach Unai Emery has now only overseen one victory in seven Champions League knockout games.

History for Vlahovic

Vlahovic continues to impress, becoming only the third player to score inside the opening minute of his full debut in the competition.

Having timed his run so well for that goal, however, Vlahovic was caught offside three times across the remainder of the match.

Parejo impresses

Villarreal's equaliser came courtesy of a slightly unlikely source, with this Parejo's first Champions League goal since 2019.

He produced an inspired performance in the middle of the park. No player recorded more touches (89), passes (80), successful passes (73) or passes in the opposing half (70).

Key Opta Facts

– Vlahovic's goal after 32 seconds was the earliest in a Champions League knockout stage match since David Alaba for Bayern Munich, against Juventus, in April 2013 (00:24).
– It was the earliest in any Champions League game since Jack Wilshere for Arsenal, against Marseille, in November 2013 (00:30). 
– Juventus have lost only one of their past six away games against Spanish sides in Champions League (W3 D2), conceding on average just one goal per game in the process. 
– Juventus' previous draw in the Champions League was also in Spain, against Atletico Madrid in September 2019 (2-2) – they had won 17 matches and lost four since. 
– Juve have avoided defeat in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 for the first time since February 2018, against Tottenham (2-2) – they had lost three such matches since. 

What's next?

Juventus return to Serie A action on Saturday when they travel to Empoli, while Villarreal host Espanyol in LaLiga the following day. This tie concludes with the second leg on March 16.


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