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Match Report: Everton v. Juventus

Paul Thomas

When fans arrived at Buck Shaw Stadium in San Francisco, they were disappointed to learn that the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini would not be starting the game between Juventus and Everton in the International Champions Cup, but Toffees fans will have been delighted to hear that sort after left back Leighton Baines was starting the game after injury preventing the England full back from a run out against Blackburn Rovers in Everton's last friendly.

It was Baines with the first attempt for either side seeing his deflected free kick being cleared nervously away by the Juventus defense in the 6th minute. Everton did find the net a minute later when Phil Jagielka was unable to connect with Steven Pienaar's in-swinging free kick from the left finding the Juventus goal anyway; although the newly appointed Everton captain was ruled to be offside. Everton's left-hand side looked as strong as ever despite the Toffees employing a similar shape and formation adopted by Roberto Martinez at his previous club Wigan - with Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines being employed as wing backs. The Blues were also playing the ball out of defense and the three center halves (Stones, Jagielka and Distin) looking to bring Gibson and Fellaini into the game however the Juventus midfield pressed well in the first half therefore the Toffees found it difficult to dictate the play.

In the absence of Andrea Pirlo, the Seria A champions also found it difficult to keep possession of the ball in the first half thus the first senior meeting between these two teams started as a ‘scrappy' affair and neither team settled into a passing rhythm. However, Everton did grow into the game as it progressed keeping the ball but lacking purpose looking more likely to score from a set piece. It was a set piece that provided the best opening of the half for either team after Anichebe was brought down by Ogbonna on the left; Mirallas whipped the free kick in and Stones flicked a header onto the keeper's left-hand post. Everton looked for Anichebe's feet from the early stages but Angelo Ogbonna came out on top with ‘Slic Vic' not holding the ball up particularly well. However as the half went on Anichebe began to get the better of fellow countryman and went from strength to strength.

New Juventus signing, familiar to the Blues; Carlos Tevez was the brightest spark in the early stages of the second half with Juventus coming out on top. The Argentine not only showed his creativity to create a few openings for his new club; he also showcased his dogged hardworking nature. He and Arturo Vidal had long range efforts saved superbly by Tim Howard on his home soil. It was Anichebe again causing problems for the Juventus players and as Tevez had shown his workmen-like qualities; the Nigerian tracked back and pressured Luca Marrone and disposing the midfield maestro finding Darron Gibson who set Kevin Mirallas free down the right on a breakaway. Mirallas entered the box and flamboyantly cut inside and struck the bottom left corner with his ‘weaker' left foot to give the Toffees the lead.

Everton back line showed immense defending and effort but towards the end look to tire under the pressure from the Serie A champions were putting them under. A couple of blocks, last ditch tackles, diving headers and smart saves from the impressive John Stones, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Tim Howard, respectively. Then nine minutes from time Kwadwo Asamoah struck a thunderous strike on the edge of the area after Osman's failure to clear a Vucinic cross, giving Howard no chance and equalizing the game sending the tie to penalties. Leon Osman missed the first penalty and with a chance for Juventus to win the shootout Andrea Pirlo struck his penalty wide. John Stones showed colossal composure to chip his penalty to put Everton in the lead and Seamus Coleman rifled his penalty home. Then American Tim Howard saved Peluso's penalty to give Everton the victory. A queue of Everton players then formed to swap shirts with Andrea Pirlo with Ross Barkley being the eventual recipient.