Champions Juventus and last season’s runners-up Roma were left licking their wounds as free-scoring Sampdoria seized command of Italy’s top flight on the opening weekend of Serie A.
Defending league and Cup champions as well as beaten Champions League finalists last season, Juventus’s bid for a record-equalling fifth scudetto was kept in check by a stunning 1-0 defeat to Udinese on Sunday.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men had dominated throughout a one-sided encounter in Turin but paid the price for a string of missed chances when Frenchman Cyril Thereau was left unmarked to beat Gianluigi Buffon at his far post in the 78th minute.
It was Juve’s first reverse at home on the opening day of the season, having suffered a rare opening day defeat in 2010 away to then top flight side Bari.
Juventus sold Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo over the summer and Allegri said:
“You have to remember we are at the start of the season and a lot of our new players have yet to settle in,” he said.
The 48-year-old added: “For 70 minutes we completely controlled the game, we just couldn’t find the opening. But we should have defended much better on their goal.
“Still, compliments to Udinese. We tried to win the game with our attacking spirit and on their first real chance they got the goal that settled the game.”
The Old Lady of Turin were not alone in suffering opening day jitters.
Roma, runners-up the past two seasons, drew at Verona on Saturday (1-1), and were outdone by city rivals Lazio, who cruised to a 2-1 win over new boys Bologna with new signing Ricardo Kishna, 20, hitting his maiden goal only months after signing from Ajax.
Napoli and AC Milan, meanwhile, fell to defeats at Sassuolo and Fiorentina respectively while Inter Milan’s blushes were only saved in the third minute of injury time when on-loan Manchester City forward Stevan Jovetic produced a fine goal to give the Nerazzurri a 1-0 home win against Atalanta.
An Alessandro Florenzi leveller secured that point for Roma on Saturday, but he admitted: “We could have won it if we’d just been a bit more clinical.
“If we carry on like this, we’re sure to have our say in matters this season.”
That hope, however, will be tested next week when Roma host Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico looking to hand the champions their second successive reverse.
“It’ll be a great game and it will be tough, but we want to win it and we have what it takes to do that,” added the Italian.
Napoli got off to the perfect start at Sassuolo when Marek Hamsik hit their opener after three minutes, but the Emilia-Romagna outfit are a notoriously stubborn side at home.
Floro Flores levelled just after the half hour after some fine individual skill yards from goal and Nicola Sansone stunned the Partenopei with the winner six minutes from time.
Milan’s bid for a first win under new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic at Fiorentina was dented in the 37th minute when Rodrigo Ely saw red for a challenge from behind on Nikola Kalinic.
Marcos Alonso stepped up to curl a superb free kick inside Diego Lopez’s far post and Josip Ilicic doubled the Viola’s lead before the hour from the spot after he was fouled by Alessio Romagnoli.
Compounding Mihajlovic’s woes was former side Sampdoria’s 5-2 home win over new boys Carpi, thanks to a brace each for Eder and Luis Muriel.
Elsewhere, Chievo — in spite of losing Thereau to Udinese — claimed a deserved 3-1 win away at Empoli and Palermo beat Genoa at home thanks to a late winner by defender Abdelhamid El Kaoutari.
Torino claimed a deserved three points at new boys Frosinone thanks to Daniele Baselli’s second-half winner after Fabio Quagliarella had cancelled out Danilo Soddimo’s seventh-minute opener for the hosts. – Agence France-Presse