Tomi Juric celebrates his goal against Juventus. Photo: Brendan Esposito
- Dom Bossi: Juventus survive a match they would like to forget against A-League All Stars
- As it happened: A-League All Stars v Juventus
- Michael Cockerill: Juventus got what they wanted in the end but All Stars made them sweat
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.
A-League Allstars versus Juventus
David Williams in action during the game. 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. 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.