NEW YORK — Winger Cristian Pasquato made it well worth the wait, scoring on a spectacular side volley after a 36-minute weather delay as Juventus defeated Club América in a Herbalife World Football Challenge match played at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
A passing lightning storm caused referee Jorge Gonzalez to suspend the action in the 32nd minute, but when play resumed, Juventus got the lone goal they needed three minutes from halftime when Pasquato volleyed home a weak clearance by América goalkeeper Armando Navarrete, placing his shot over charging defenders and into the top right corner.
In a sign of the importance of the match to Juventus manager Antonio Conte, he played his starting lineup for 73 minutes, by which time América had already made eight substitutions.
América were the crisper side early in the first half but their lively midfielders could not take advantage of several Juventus errors, which led to gesturing and finger-pointing by members of Italian club. Las Águilas were rarely dangerous and the best opportunities of the match were instead created by Juventus center forward Alessandro Matri.
Matri dribbled by a defender in the América box and sent a diagonal left-footed shot just wide of the far post after 14 minutes. Just 12 minutes later, he curled a spectacular volley just wide off a cross from right back Stephan Lichtsteiner, who registered a man-of-the-match performance. Those opportunities sandwiched a free attempt at goal by Alessandro Del Piero from the penalty arc that sailed high.
After a 36-minute weather delay in the 32nd minute, the teams resumed play with Juventus breaking through 10 minutes after the restart. Lichtsteiner made another of numerous overlapping runs on the night but his 42nd-minute cross was weakly swatted by Navarrete, who sent the ball in the direction of Pasquato. The 22-year-old Juventus youth product obliged by sending an exquisite right-footed side volley into the top right corner of the goal.
Christian Benítez, América’s speedy Ecuadorean striker, was rarely able to build a head of steam in the first half, but when he did, Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was forced into action. In first-half stoppage time, he received a pass in stride in the Juventus penalty area, sidestepped a defender in the box and fired a left-footed shot which was blocked by the onrushing Buffon.
In the second half, Juventus comfortably managed the 1-0 lead against an América team that made five subs at halftime. For all their possession after the break, América failed to make any incisive runs in the box and their forwards rarely troubled the Juventus back line. The closest the Mexican side came to an equalizer was a close-range 69th minute header by Daniel Márquez that finished over the crossbar.
Club América, who dropped a 2-0 decision to Manchester City on July 16 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, made three changes to their starting lineup from the 2-1 victory over Querétaro to open the Mexican Apertura season on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Juventus made four changes to the starting XI used in the 2-1 loss to Sporting Clube de Portugal last Saturday in Toronto. The most notable change was veteran captain Del Piero inserted in the place of Fabio Quagliarella to support Matri up top.
Tuesday night’s match was the second in the competition for both sides. Juventus will play their third and final match on Thursday, July 28, in Raleigh, N.C., against another Mexican side, CD Guadalajara (8 p.m. ET; ESPN2, Galavisión). Club América will meet European champions FC Barcelona in the World Football Challenge finale on Aug. 6 from Cowboys Stadium (4 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes).
JUV — Pasquato 42’
JUV — Marchisio, 27’
CA — Aguilar, 35’
CA — Valenzuela, 83’
Juventus (4-4-2, left to right): #1 Gianluigi Buffon – #29 Paolo De Ceglie (73’ #16 Reto Ziegler), #3 Giorgio Chiellini (75’ #15 Andrea Barzagli), #19 Leonardo Bonucci, #26 Stephan Lichtsteiner -- #36 Cristian Pasquato (90’ #37 Manuel Giandonato), #21 Andrea Pirlo (73’ #14 Michele Pazienza), #8 Claudio Marchisio (87’ #34 Luca Marrone), #27 Milos Krasic (74’ #38 Ciro Immobile) -- #10 Alessandro Del Piero (capt.) (73’ #18 Fabio Quagliarella), #32 Alessandro Matri (74’ #20 Luca Toni)
Subs Not Used: #30 Marco Storari, #13 Alexander Manninger, #23 Zdenek Grygera, #33 Frederik Sorensen, #2 Marco Motta, #25 Jorge Martinez
Manager: Antonio Conte
Club America (5-4-1, left to right): #1 Armando Navarrete (46’ #12 Hugo Gonzalez) -- #15 Edgar Castillo (46’ #4 Oscar Rojas), #55 Jorge Reyes (74’ #19 Miguel Layún), #3 Aquivaldo Mosquera (80’ #26 Juan Carlos Medina), #32 Erik Pimentel (46’ #6 Carlos Valenzuela), #22 Paul Aguilar (76’ #33 Patricio Treviño)-- #8 Vicente Sanchez (capt.) (57’ #23 Joaquin Martinez), #5 Jesus Molina (68’ #24 Daniel Márquez), #7 Adolfo Rosinei (64’ #34 George Corral), #10 Daniel Montenegro (46’ #16 Isaac Acuña) -- #11 Christian Benitez (46’ #30 Matias Vuoso)
Subs Not Used: #52 Alejandro Munoz, #25 Renato Gonzalez
Manager: Carlos Reinoso
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Assistant Referees: Adam Wienchowski, Brian Dunn
Fourth Official: Ryan Dos Reis
Weather: Cloudy, thunderstorms, 82 degrees