MILAN (AP) — In the absence of the injured Paul Pogba, it was another of the new signings who stood out for Juventus as they kicked off their season on Monday with a 3-0 win over Sassuolo in Serie A.
The Argentine Ángel Di María scored the first goal and assisted Dušan Vlahović’s third, who was responsible for collecting a penalty after a foul committed against him.
The great performance of Di María, 34, was overshadowed when he had to leave in the 66th minute with an apparent discomfort in the left adductor.
“He always has that look on his face,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri joked. “He had this little adductor problem a week ago, but I don’t worry too much. We’ll see the results of the tests tomorrow.”
Di Maria’s presentation in Turin did not generate the same fanfare as Pogba’s last month. The Argentine signed as a free agent from Paris Saint-Germain days before Pogba completed his return to the Vecchia Signora.
But Pogba was one of the players absent in the first game of the campaign. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, as well as Federico Chiesa and Kaio Jorge, are injured. Moise Kean and Adrien Rabiot served a suspension.
American midfielder Weston McKennie has recovered from his injury and started.
Juventus went from less to more. They opened the account in the 26th minute when Alex Sandro passed the ball to Di María, who finished with a volley.
The Bianconeri increased their lead three minutes before half-time when Vlahović’s penalty kicked wide of the middle of the goal after being brought down by Sassuolo defender Gian Marco Ferrari.
Di María missed a second goal shortly after the restart. But he ended up as an assistant at 51 after a defensive mistake by Sassuolo. Kaan Ayhan served the Argentine the ball and he enabled Vlahović to finish at close range.
ANOTHER GREAT DEBUT
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia could soon make Napoli forget all the players they let go of during the summer.
The 21-year-old winger, signed from Georgian club Dinamo Batumi last month, provided a goal and an assist as Napoli beat Hellas Verona 5-2 in their opening season.
Napoli finished third last season but the southern club raised questions about its potential after the departure of several figures, such as captain Lorenzo Insigne, historic goalscorer Dries Mertens and defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
They took the initiative in the visit to Verona, but the local team struck first in the 29th minute. The Napoli goalkeeper was able to deflect a shot from Martin Hongla, but Kevin Lasagna volleyed in the ensuing corner kick.
Napoli equalized three minutes later when Kvaratskhelia headed Mexico’s Hirving Lozano’s cross into the back of the net.
They turned the score around just before half-time, with a goal similar to Verona’s first. After a corner kick, Victor Osimhen appeared to define a volley towards the far post.
It transpired that Verona fans made racist chants towards Osimhen, who is black. The Nigerian striker responded by pretending that he was crying.
Thomas Henry equalized for Verona immediately after the restart, but Napoli went on to dominate utterly.
They restored their lead in the 55th when Kvaratskhelia slipped in a delicious pass for Piotr Zielinski’s goal.
Stanislav Lobotka and Matteo Politano sentenced the result.