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Substitute Alvaro Morata rescues draw for Juventus at Fiorentina

FOOTBALL By Reuters | April 26th 2021
Football - Serie A - Fiorentina v Juventus - Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy - April 25, 2021. Juventus' Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring their first goal. [REUTERS/Alberto Lingria]

A superb strike from substitute Alvaro Morata earned Juventus a 1-1 Serie A draw at Fiorentina on Sunday in a result that could prove costly for the Turin club’s Champions League qualification hopes.

Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic calmly dinked a penalty past Wojciech Szczesny to give the hosts a deserved lead.

Juve coach Andrea Pirlo brought on Morata at halftime and was immediately rewarded, as the Spaniard curled a shot into the top corner from a tight angle 31 seconds into the second half.

The result moved the champions level with second-placed AC Milan in the standings on 66 points, but the Rossoneri can pull clear when they face Lazio on Monday.

The pressure is growing on Juve in their fight for a top-four finish as Atalanta and Napoli, two and three points behind respectively, are yet to play this weekend.

"We had a very bad first half, we should have approached it in a different way because it was a fundamental game in the Champions League race," Pirlo told Sky Italia.

"Instead we were always late, not aggressive, we left too much space to their players, and these things together led to a bad first half, although we did a little better in the second half."

It could be a valuable point for Fiorentina’s survival hopes, leaving Giuseppe Iachini’s side in 14th place with 34 points, six clear of the relegation zone.

Fiorentina were the better side in the first half and threatened when a Nikola Milenkovic shot was well saved by Szczesny, before Erick Pulgar’s deflected shot hit the post.

A VAR review showed that Adrien Rabiot was guilty of handball in the box, and Vlahovic tucked away the spot-kick in style by executing a Panenka-style chipped finish.

Pirlo rang the changes at halftime as Morata and winger Dejan Kulusevski were introduced, and Morata almost immediately found the net with a swerving strike.

Juve’s performance improved but neither side could find a winner.

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