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Verona stun AC Milan in opener

Freshly promoted side Verona get off to the perfect Serie A start as Juventus begin title defence with victory.

Last Modified: 24 Aug 2013 20:59
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Toni celebrated Verona's return to the top flight with two goals as his team beat Italian giants Milan [AP]

Veteran striker Luca Toni scored twice in a shock 2-1 home win over AC Milan to hand newly-promoted Verona a dream start to life back in Serie A after an 11-year absence.

Milan opened the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour when midfielder Andrea Poli finished off a smart pass from Italy striker Mario Balotelli.

But the visitors were pegged back by Toni on the half hour, and left stunned when the former Fiorentina striker scored with his second header eight minutes after the restart.

It was more to form, meanwhile, as Juventus kicked off their bid for a third consecutive title with Carlos Tevez scoring in the 58th minute of a 1-0 win at Sampdoria, which beat the Bianconeri in both league meetings last season.

Juve didn't quite dominate like in its 4-0 rout of Lazio in last weekend's Super Cup but Antonio Conte's men showed the same poise and discipline of the past two seasons.

Tevez, Juve's big offseason acquisition from Manchester City, only had to tap in after taking a pass from Paul Pogba at the edge of the box on a rainy night at the Juventus Stadium.

Toni leveller

In Verona, Milan started the brightest and in the opening minutes Balotelli was given time to unleash a curling shot from the edge of the area which Brazilian 'keeper Rafael dived to parry.

M'Baye Niang then saw his shot hit traffic from the right of goal when he was set up by fellow forward Stephan El Shaarawy.

And Poli finally gave Milan the breakthrough when he latched on to Balotelli's delightful through ball to dance past two defenders and beat Rafael at his far post.

Verona had enjoyed only brief spells of possession in Milan's final third before Toni levelled with half an hour on the clock when headed a corner past Christian Abbiati at the 'keeper's near post.

The hosts finished the first half the stronger of the two sides and the began the second in the same fashion.

First Bosko Jankovic, a recent signing from Genoa, came close with a bullet header from 10 metres out which came off both 'keeper and bar.

The Serbian midfielder then found a virtually unmarked Toni at the far post and the 36-year-old sent his second header past Abbiati to give the hosts a shock 2-1 lead.

Verona even came close to scoring their third on a surging counter-attack but, despite an unmarked Toni calling for a far-post delivery, Martinho opted to shoot, forcing a fine save from Abbiati.

Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri reacted by making a double substitution, with Dutchman Urby Emanuelson and 18-year-old Andrea Petagna, making his debut, replacing El Shaarawy and Niang.

Brazilian forward Robinho was then sent on in place of left-back Kevin Constant and the former Real Madrid man had an immediate impact with an inviting ball across goal that found no takers.

A swerving long-range effort from Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo that Rafel blocked was the last real chance for Milan, who after battling to finish third last season had pledged to become a more consistent threat in this campaign.

524

Source:
AFP
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