World Football Challenge: Juventus strike earns win

Alessandro Del Piero, left, of Juventus is challenged by Jorge Reyes of Club America during the Herbalife World Football Challenge match at Citi Field.

On a night when lightning strikes filled the sky, it was a lighting strike off the foot of Cristian Pasquato that was the difference.

Pasquato’s goal in the 42nd minute gave Juventus a 1-0 win over Club America in the Herbalife World Football Challenge 2011 Tuesday night at Citi Field. The international tournament includes five MLS teams and eight international teams.

“This was a well-advanced club we played against,” Juventus coach Antonio Conte said through translator Michael Mitolo. “It was a very important test in our preseason training and we’re very satisfied with the result.”

The match was a preseason game for Juventus — the historically significant Serie A franchise — while the friendly was the second game Club America has played this season. The Mexican First Division team beat Queretaro, 2-1, on Sunday.

The game was delayed 36 minutes in the first half due to an electrical storm.  A loud portion of the 20,859 hissed at the decision despite a half dozen flashes of lightning around the stadium.

“It was unfortunately stopped by the weather,” Club America coach Carlos Reinoso said through translator Marisabel Munoz. “I think that took some rhythm out of us.”

Despite being outshot 13-9 for the game, Juventus had the better of play in the first half. They did not break through until Club America goaltender Armando Navarrete lost control of the ball and Pasquato slammed the loose ball into the right side of the goal.

“Pasquato is a speedy winger. He likes the fly down the flanks,” Conte said of Pasquato, who finished with two shots on goal. “We are, as quite evidenced by our formations, lacking in that category on the wing. Pasquato offers that option for us. One of the reasons we brought him here was to occupy that role.

“As you can tell, [last night] he played very well based on the game plan that was fly up the wing. We’re going to keep him close to our [vests] and make sure we can integrate him to the squad. We have this need for a winger.”

Reinoso made mass substitutions to start the second half, including replacing Navarrete with Hugo Gonzalez. Reinoso was adamant that the change in goal had nothing to do with Pasquato’s goal. Navarrete and Gonzalez each finished with a save.

“Not at all. I made four or five substitutions at the half,” Reinoso said. “I wanted to give all the players [playing time].”

Juventus limited Club America’s opportunities by sagging in the box. The tactic, akin to the trap in hockey, forced Club America to pass laterally instead of vertically. Club America’s shot attempts were mostly harmless, except for one in the 64th minute Gianluigi Buffon had to dive to stop along the goal line. It was one of the two saves he made on the night.

There are four games remaining with Club America taking on F.C.
Barcelona in the finale at Cowboys Stadium on Aug. 6.  Juventus will
play Chivas de Guadalajara tomorrow in Raleigh, N.C.

Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman and keep up to date on everything going on in Metro New York sports with @MetroNYSports.


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