Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus made a winning start to the 2019/20 season in Serie A by beating Parma 1-0 at the Stadio Ennio Tardini on Saturday.
Giorgio Chiellini got on the scoresheet after 21 minutes, while Ronaldo had a goal chalked off by the video assistant referee, but the Bianconeri looked as strong as ever, even without several new faces being involved. Summer imports Adrien Rabiot, Matthijs de Ligt and Danilo started on the bench, while former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey wasn't in the squad.
Winning with so many familiar faces is an ominous sign for the rest of Italy's top flight, with Juve aiming for a ninth title in a row.
It took Juve just 21 minutes to go in front when Alex Sandro's cross-shot found its way to Chiellini. The 35-year-old centre-back showed off some deft technique to flick the ball in.
Ronaldo thought he had made it 2-0 on 33 minutes after being played via a slick through-ball from Douglas Costa. VAR intervened, though, and judged Ronaldo was offside.
Replays showed it was a tight call:
Juve stayed in control after the reversal, with Costa and Miralem Pjanic going close before the break. Gonzalo Higuain led the Juventus forward line, and the man who spent last season on loan at AC Milan and Chelsea produced some neat touches and clever flicks to bring others into the game.
Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy
HT: Parma 0-1 Juventus (Chiellini) Thoughts: • Juventus unlucky. Ronaldo three golden chances, two missed, one wonderful goal ruled off by VAR • Douglas Costa impressive, both on the ball and with his defensive work • Higuain doing well as the playmaker with his back to goal
More bright play from the visitors defined the early portion of the second half. Costa continued to pull the strings creatively, teeing up chances for Ronaldo and Higuain, both of whom were thwarted by some resolute Parma defending.
Rabiot came on just after the hour mark to provide support for Pjanic as a natural technician at the base of Juve's midfield.
It was the latter who created a few more chances for Ronaldo, but the prolific No. 7 found Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe a stubborn figure.
Parma's resistance was beginning to frustrate Juventus, but the home side were struggling to muster much going forward. Antonio Barilla couldn't find his range from midfield and release the pace of ex-Arsenal and AS Roma forward Gervinho in behind.
Those problems meant Juve were able to hold firm without too much fuss. The Bianconeri will be more impressive once new signings have settled, but a gritty win on their travels shows Juventus still have the champions' knack for grinding out victories when not at their best.
Juve host Napoli on Saturday, August 31, while Parma will be up against Udinese on Sunday, September 1.