This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
Andrea Pirlo felt that the Juventus youth showed they were “up to the task” but said they must be more ruthless after needing extra time to beat Genoa 3-2 in the Coppa Italia.
Juve dominated Genoa in the first half at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday, and spirited Dejan Kulusevski opened the scoring in two minutes before scoring a second goal for Álvaro Morata.
Lennart Czyborra halved the deficit with a header off the run midway through the first half and Filippo Melegoni forced extra time with a great shot from 25 yards.
Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced as a substitute at the end of regulation time, but it was rookie Hamza Rafia, 21, who solved him at the end of the first period of extra time.
– JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 13, 2021
Radu Dragusin and Manolo Portanova were among the other young players Pirlo gave a chance on a night when a much-changed Juve team had 24 shots, 13 of which were on target, as they did a lot of hard work to prepare the quarterfinals tie against Sassuolo or SPAL.
Pirlo was impressed by Juve’s youth but was frustrated that the Serie A champions were brought into extra time before a clash with Inter on Sunday.
He said: “They played a great game, I’m happy for them because they proved to be up to the task. Too bad the game got complicated, we had to close it in the first half ”.
Pirlo added: “It happens that from time to time we think that the race is over we lose concentration, thinking that everything is easy, but if you don’t have a good head, they become complicated games.
“As it happened today when we went into extra time, we lost energy and had to finish it in the first half.”
Kulusevski staked his claim for a regular spot at the start, hitting the target with four of his five shots and making four key passes while tormenting Genoa in a graceful performance.
Pirlo was not surprised to see Swedish midfielder and forward Morata, starting for the first time since recovering from a thigh injury, bond so effectively.
The former Italy playmaker said: “They had a great understanding, especially in the first half when they played very close and played for each other.
“They have been training together since the beginning of the season and they know what their characteristics are and how to look for each other and tonight they have shown it.”