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A-League All Stars fight valiantly against Juventus

Tomi Juric celebrates his goal against Juventus.

Tomi Juric celebrates his goal against Juventus. Photo: Brendan Esposito

After a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Manchester United just over a year ago, all the A-League All Stars wanted out of Sunday night's match was to compete. 

They were a side fighting on behalf of a league 10 years in its infancy and desperate to establish itself on the world stage against a team with not a whole lot to gain.  Were they able to prove themselves? Did they stick it to Juventus like we had so wishfully hoped? You bet. 

David Williams in action during the game. Click for more photos

A-League Allstars versus Juventus

A-League Allstars face off against European powerhouse Juventus at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Follow us at twitter.com/photosSMH Like these photos? Go to www.fairfaxphotos.com Photo: Brendan Esposito

Their 3-2 loss, which came on the back of two late goals within five minutes of each other, in reality, was almost one of the greatest upsets we have seen in Australian football. This is a side who have been assembled for the best part of a week, who had the audacity to play an attacking brand of football against Juventus, the Serie A giants, champions over the last three seasons in one of the best football leagues in the world. 

Besart Berisha was his characteristic self, finding ample space when there seemed to be no room to move, while Bernie Ibini managed to do his bit on the right edge when his team most needed it.  After some superb possession football from Josep Gombau's men and nine minutes on the clock, we had a goal, but certainly not from who we expected. 

Freeing himself from the suffocating defensive formula perfected by Juventus' men at the back, 30-year-old Adelaide midfielder Marcelo Carrusca found some space and drilled a left footer past a diving Gianluigi Buffon. 

Ciao: Italian great Alessandro Del Piero farewells Australian football.

Ciao: Italian great Alessandro Del Piero farewells Australian football. Photo: Brendan Esposito

But this wasn't a stereotypical football mismatch where the challengers scored a lucky goal, the All-Stars, to their credit, were the better team in the first half. 

After stringing more passes together in the opening exchanges than their European counterparts, Del Piero was pulled down just outside penalty box, which had the strong crowd of 55,364 asking themselves if they were about to see some of the magic he had produced in two seasons in a Sky Blue strip.

It wasn't to be, but since when did Manny Muscat make 60m breakaways? His break midway through the first half was the All-Stars' best chance at streaking ahead by two goals until Berisha's excellent strike in the right corner was deflected by the wily old fox that Buffon is.  

The All-Stars weren't sitting on their haunches after scoring the only goal of the match, they pressed continuously through some smart cross-field passing routines which ultimately put them in good pitch position. Their five shots on target to Juventus' two was the story of the first term. 

But football is a game of two halves and if satisfaction was to be the devil in their quest for a full 90 minute performance, the All Stars showed no signs at the beginning of the first half of surrendering their lead. That was until Fernando Llorente's header from a beautiful Patrice Evra cross found the back of the net. 

A myriad of changes were made with about half an hour to go, including one which brought to the entire crowd to its feet. The curtain has finally officially closed on Del Piero's service to Australian football, but unfortunately, his last wasn't something he will be writing home about by any standards. He wasn't executing passes like he did in his heyday, but with a player of him in the team, it would have boosted morale immeasurably. 

The All-Stars second goal came from Tomi Juric, whose right foot touch onto a left foot snap reignited a genuine belief within the stands that there could be an upset on the cards. But the fairytale narrative was put to bed by Paul Pogba, to level the socres at 2-2 before the final nail in the coffin from Simone Pepe with seconds remaining.  

13 comments so far

  • What a fantastic night for football. Superb game the A league all stars showed the aussie league is growing into a high quality competition against a world class team like juventus . Superb crowd . And wollongng showed it was the perfect venue for the All star teams base with its excellent facilities playing surface and fantastic supoort form the locals seven thousand turned up to watch the boys train. .keep the momentum going David gallop.bring more high profile players and teams to Australia .we love it

    Commenter
    Football fan
    Date and time
    August 10, 2014, 10:14PM
    • Agree, it was an excellent performance from all the A League lads. Congratulation to the Allstars coach Josep Gombau, he had the team motivated and playing a great brand of football. Some lovely passing and close control. Can't wait for our season to start.

      Commenter
      Juve fan
      Date and time
      August 10, 2014, 10:48PM
      • Didn't watch the game but it sounded like it was a spectacle. Please don't troll the comment section AFL people :)

        Commenter
        Frank
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        August 10, 2014, 11:07PM
        • Would be great if these articles could have some simple match stats at the top inc. the final score, goal scores, assist, fouls and subs.

          Commenter
          Dan
          Date and time
          August 11, 2014, 1:22AM
          • Stats do not really tell the story. Only one way to judge a football match or players and that is to watch it. State like 100% completed passes sounds great but they could all be backward and for the team meant absolutely zero. There are a lot of stupid stats flying around but the best one is if you hit a cracker and it smashes into the cross bar it is not a shot on goal. But if you hit a dribbler at the keeper it is counted as a shot on goal. But anyway a brilliant game of football. Why oh Why did the big Ange leave Jade North and Juric at home and not take them to Brazil. North was absolutely brilliant and what we needed in defence.

            Commenter
            Roary
            Date and time
            August 11, 2014, 6:38AM
          • Thanks for the lecture Roary but you shouldn't have to wait until the 3rd paragraph to find out the score. Not everybody can watch the game in person so stats prove useful - assuming they're available.

            Commenter
            Bob
            Date and time
            August 11, 2014, 6:58AM
          • Stats certainly do help. It is a common feature in other publications and I hope that Fairfax consider it. e.g. http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28647186

            Commenter
            Dan
            Date and time
            August 11, 2014, 8:31AM
        • Juventus players are on an overseas holiday trip, aren't they?

          Commenter
          Cayce
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          August 11, 2014, 6:42AM
          • lolol 31% of votes for Arsenal to win the EPL???

            Clueless ...

            Commenter
            No Chance
            Date and time
            August 11, 2014, 6:53AM
            • Great game of football form the A-league boys but the old foxes had it in the end. Our thanks to Allessandro for helping to lift the game in Australia.

              Commenter
              Davidos
              Location
              Brisbane
              Date and time
              August 11, 2014, 6:55AM

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