Massimiliano Allegri hailed Nicolo Fagioli's "great quality" after the young Juventus midfielder hit a stunning goal to earn a 1-0 victory at Lecce.

If head coach Allegri was feeling mounting pressure during a tense, largely drab game at the Stadio Via del Mare, that was lifted at least briefly when substitute Fagioli whipped a brilliant strike past Wladimiro Falcone.

The 73rd-minute winner means Juventus have strung together three consecutive victories and clean sheets in Serie A for the first time since February 2021. 

Those wins have come against Torino, Empoli and Lecce, rather than the elite, but with Juventus mired in injury trouble any win is welcome just now as they cling to top-four aspirations.

They are heading out of the Champions League and may even fall short of parachuting into the Europa League, with Allegri's second season of his second spell in charge not going to plan.

Yet amid the gloom, a new hero emerged. Fagioli became the first player born in 2001 onwards to score for Juventus in Serie A, with the 21-year-old settling a game that would otherwise not have lived long in the memory.

Indeed, the total expected goals (xG) tally for Saturday's game was just 0.81, taking both teams into account.

The xG metric considers the quality of a team's chances and their likelihood of scoring, and this combined tally was the lowest of all matches so far in Serie A this season.

For the winner, Samuel Iling had been on the field for just 41 seconds when he fed a short pass to the roving Fagioli, who turned sharply and fired from the left of goal into the top far corner.

"Nicolo has great quality," Allegri told DAZN. "His path was particular. He was a bit bastardised in the role, and he still has to learn to play in front of the defence because he never did it, but Iling was also very good in assisting. All the guys were good."

Juventus are missing a string of stars due to injury, including Dusan Vlahovic, Paul Pogba and Federico Chiesa, and it was a much-weakened side that faced Lecce, Allegri deploying more youngsters than is ideal.

Fagioli came on for the start of the second half in place of Weston McKennie, who had been poor before the break.

"The idea was to send Fagioli to the pitch during the game when their intensity dropped," Allegri said. "In football and in life you get up. Everything can not always go wrong, nor always is everything well.

"And just when things go wrong you have to be mentally strong and be good at weathering the storm. Healthy madness must always be maintained, only rationality does not make its way."

Home captain Morten Hjulmand hit the foot of the left post in the closing moments with a skidding shot from 20 yards, Lecce's best effort of the game in which they failed to put a shot on target.

The result will come as a relief to all involved at Juventus, including vice-president Pavel Nedved, who said ahead of the game that Allegri continues to have the club's full support.

Italian media have speculated Juventus could look to bring Antonio Conte back to the club at the end of the season, when his Tottenham contract expires.

However, Nedved offered some reassurance regarding the board's backing, telling DAZN before kick-off: "Our position does not change: Allegri has the full confidence of the club and of the players themselves.

"I think it is normal that when the results do not arrive many names come up and many others will come out, but I repeat our position does not change."

Nicolo Fagioli lit up a drab game with a classy winner for Juventus as Massimiliano Allegri's team scrambled a 1-0 victory at Lecce on Saturday.

The substitute made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute, turning in the penalty area after a short pass from the left flank by Samuel Iling before curling an exquisite shot in off the far post.

Juventus had all the pressure leading up to that, but they rarely threatened a breakthrough, with an injury-hit team playing with little confidence.

Amid their Champions League group-stage failure, this result, however scrappily it was obtained, gives Juventus a third successive win and clean sheet in Serie A.

The quality was poor in the opening half hour, but the tackles were thunderous at times, with four early bookings for the Juventus quartet of Juan Cuadrado, Federico Gatti, Arkadiusz Milik and Fabio Miretti.

Cuadrado, captaining the injury-weakened visitors, slashed a cross-shot well wide, before Adrien Rabiot's ambitious 30-yard attempt in the 32nd minute fizzed along the turf into the grateful arms of Wladimiro Falcone.

Rabiot had the best chance of the half in the 43rd minute, with his powerful header from Filip Kostic's left-wing corner pushed aside by Falcone, whose goal was coming under a growing threat.

Lecce, having won just four of their previous 32 Serie A matches against Juventus, carried next to no threat before the interval and last season's Serie B champions were almost behind early in the second half when Gatti's header from a free-kick nearly gave Milik a tap-in.

It was a game that was almost interesting, nearly distracting. A flick from Milik was gathered by Falcone as Cuadrado closed in, then Milik had a low shot from 20 yards that the goalkeeper had to dive to palm away.

Juventus substitute Moise Kean headed meekly wide when he should probably have scored, and Gatti nodded over, before Fagioli, on since the start of the second half, made his decisive contribution.

Lecce captain Morten Hjulmand hit the post with a skidding shot in the 89th minute as the visitors clung on.

Massimiliano Allegri wants Juventus to channel their Champions League "anger" and show the rest of Serie A they remain a force to be reckoned with.

Under-pressure head coach Allegri said Juventus would "play an unspectacular game if necessary" on Saturday to get the better of Lecce.

After recent wins over Torino and Empoli, Juventus are looking for a third Serie A victory on the bounce, but results in Europe have been dreadful by comparison, with defeats to Maccabi Haifa and Benfica dumping the Bianconeri out at the Champions League group stage.

Italian media have not been slow to link Tottenham boss Antonio Conte with a return to Juventus, possibly at the end of the season when the former Italy coach's contract expires at Spurs, though the Premier League club do have an option to extend that agreement.

But Allegri wants to prove his Juventus are not a busted flush, and a long streak of league wins would be timely, possibly for the 55-year-old's job security.

The last time the Bianconeri won three league games in a row without conceding was back in February 2021, but winning 1-0 at Torino and 4-0 at home to Empoli last weekend has set up that possibility.

Now Lecce stand in Juve's way, and Allegri said: "We have to react after the elimination from the Champions League and carry the anger with us throughout the Serie A season.

"We will have to play an unspectacular game if necessary. Up to now Lecce has always kept the games in the balance, we know the importance of tomorrow's match, we will have to take it on as a team, with great consistency."

He will be without striker Dusan Vlahovic due to injury, while midfielder Manuel Locatelli misses out for personal reasons, with Allegri taking a 19-player group.

Federico Chiesa and Paul Pogba are not ready to return from their injury lay-offs, while Allegri was unsure whether he would field young midfielders Nicolo Fagioli and Fabio Miretti.

Juventus have 19 points from 11 games, losing twice, and they trail leaders Napoli by 10 points.

Their next Serie A assignment, after this weekend, is a clash with improving Inter.

The Lecce game is far from a formality, but Juventus have lost only four of 32 previous Serie A encounters with the team from the Salento peninsula.

"Right now we have to do something more to get out of this situation," Allegri said, quoted on his club's official website.

"It's an opportunity for everyone, it's a time for growth, I have a group of guys who have important moral values. Talking about the Scudetto today is useless, now we have to react starting from Lecce."

Jose Mourinho believes Paulo Dybala is unlikely to feature for Roma again this year after the Argentine suffered an injury in Sunday's 2-1 win over Lecce.

Dybala stroked home the winner from the penalty spot after Gabriel Strefezza cancelled out Chris Smalling's sixth-minute opener, finding the net for a third successive Serie A game.

However, the forward began to limp and clutch his left thigh in the immediate aftermath of his goal, and appeared to be in tears on the bench after being withdrawn.

Dybala's return of six goals in 10 appearances for Roma this term is a team-high tally (in all competitions), but Mourinho could now be without the 28-year-old for a lengthy period.

Asked about Dybala's condition after the win, Mourinho told DAZN: "I say bad, but I think very, very bad. 

"I am not a doctor, but in my experience, and after speaking to Paulo, it's unlikely we'll see him this year."

If Dybala is ruled out for a prolonged period, it would also represent a blow for Argentina ahead of the World Cup, with the forward having won 34 senior caps for the Albiceleste.

Meanwhile, despite Roma staying within a point of Serie A's top four with the victory, Mourinho was displeased with their game management after the visitors had captain Morten Hjulmand sent off. 

"There was fatigue, both physical and mental. Playing Thursdays and Sundays is tough," Mourinho said. "When I see Udinese and Atalanta [who drew 2-2 earlier on Sunday], I understand that they don't play midweek. 

"We entered very well, with intensity and ambition. After that it was more difficult because we managed it badly; when you are tired, instead of playing simply you complicate things.

"Today we didn't play well and we won, with Atalanta we played better and we lost [1-0 last month]. We have to manage tiredness better."

Barcelona have confirmed the departure of Samuel Umtiti on a season-long loan to Serie A side Lecce, with no option to buy.

The World Cup winner only penned a new extension with Barca earlier this year, albeit on reduced wages.

He will spend the 2022-23 campaign in Italy with newly promoted Lecce, who are looking to consolidate their position in the top tier.

Umtiti joined Barca from Lyon in 2016 and has made 133 appearances across all competitions for the club, winning two league titles and the Copa del Rey on three occasions.

In addition, he was a key member of the France squad that claimed World Cup glory at Russia 2018, though the centre-back has not played for his country since 2019 and is expected to miss out on selection for this year's tournament in Qatar.

He becomes the latest player to be offloaded by Barca as they seek to get their squad in order following a high-spending transfer window, despite well-documented financial difficulties.

Robert Lewandowski, Franck Kessie, Raphinha, Andreas Christensen and Jules Kounde have arrived, with Neto, Oscar Mingueza, Riqui Puig, Luuk de Jong, Adama Traore and Dani Alves among those to leave so far.

Barca are still yet to register former Sevilla defender Kounde, whose future at Camp Nou could well hinge upon whether Xavi's side are able to offload forwards Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Memphis Depay before the deadline, while Martin Braithwaite is another player they would like to move on.

Chelsea lost 3-0 to Leeds United on Sunday and it would appear that defeat has sparked the Blues into action.

New owner Todd Boehly has been keen to make his mark since arriving at Stamford Bridge, bringing in Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella among others.

But head coach Thomas Tuchel wants more. Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana is a priority target for the defence, while last week Chelsea had two bids rejected by Everton for Anthony Gordon.

Now it would appear the Blues are confident of completing the signing, while they are also reportedly in talks to land a second attacker.

TOP STORY - CHELSEA IN FOR GORDON AND LEAO

The Times reports that Chelsea will this week push ahead and match Everton's £50million asking price for winger Gordon, who scored four goals in a breakthrough Premier League season last term.

Everton boss Frank Lampard stressed the importance of Gordon to his plans, and played the 21-year-old against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, but also suggested that a decision might have to be made if a bid was too good to turn down.

Gordon might also be joined in moving to Stamford Bridge by Milan star Rafael Leao. The Portugal international scored 11 times for the Rossoneri as they won Serie A last season, and the same report claims that Chelsea are in talks with the Italian champions over a move for the 23-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- Several outlets are reporting that West Ham have struck a deal with Chelsea to sign left-back Emerson Palmieri for around £13million.

- Eric Bailly is close to joining Marseille on loan from Manchester United, according to Fabrizio Romano.

- The Telegraph claims Newcastle United have been told they must pay £30million to buy striker Joao Pedro from Watford.

- Villarreal coach Unai Emery told El Larguero that Edinson Cavani could join the club, while he also said that Juan Foyth is of interest to Barcelona.

- Everton were hoping to have Idrissa Gueye and Mohammed Kudus signed but have bumped into difficulties with Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax respectively, says The Times.

- Fabrizio Romano also reports that Fulham and Roma will hold further talks this week over Justin Kluivert.

- Barca defender Samuel Umtiti will join Lecce, says Gianluca Di Marzio.

Inter boss Simone Inzaghi was not pleased with his side's performance in their 2-1 win away from home against Lecce, saying a team with title aspirations can not be relying on a 94th-minute winner.

The Italian giants – who had the best goal difference in Serie A last season (plus 52) – opened the scoring just 81 seconds in, when loan signing Romelu Lukaku headed home Matteo Darmian's cross from point-blank range.

Inter controlled 70 per cent of the possession in the first half and appeared good value for their lead, but the entire complexion of the contest changed two minutes into the second half when Assan Ceesay tucked home his left-foot finish low and hard across Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic after a slick counter-attack.

The 1-1 score would hold until the game's dying moments, when an Inter corner found Lautaro Martinez's head, who flicked it on for substitute defender Denzel Dumfries to force home at the back post.

Speaking to DAZN after the win, Inzaghi said there were positives to look at, but ultimately his side needs to be more emphatic against a newly promoted team playing their first Serie A game in seven years.

"A team like ours cannot win these games [in stoppage time]," he said. "We put a lot of heart on the pitch because we won in the 94th minute, but we have to analyse the game. 

"I am fortunate to have strikers who can play together like [Edin] Dzeko and Lukaku who allow us to play directly, especially on a pitch that was not in great shape at the end, with the midfielders coming in behind them. It is an option that will also be seen in the future.

"We had an excellent half hour, then we got nervous, losing the measures and conceding the equal goal. We could have scored the double before, but a team like this can't suffer so much, and you can't wait until the last moments to win."

When probed further about Lukaku, Inzaghi added: "Lukaku? I am happy, he is working hard, he is back and has a great desire and availability. 

"He can improve like everyone else, but he works like everyone else. He is a driver and he will score a lot of goals from here."

Denzel Dumfries scored a dramatic 95th-minute winner as Inter began their Serie A campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Lecce, as Romelu Lukaku scored on his Nerazzurri return.

Lukaku required just 82 seconds to head home the opener on his second Inter debut, but Simone Inzaghi's side looked set to make a stuttering start when Assan Ceesay levelled three minutes after the break.

But substitute Dumfries was on hand to convert from a corner deep into stoppage time as Inter made a winning start to the new campaign.

Having watched champions Milan beat Udinese in their own season-opener early on Saturday, Inter ensured they matched their rivals' exploits at the outset of what is likely to be another thrilling title race.

 

Jose Mourinho is surprised Roma are being talked up as Serie A title contenders given "only Sampdoria and Lecce spent less than us".

The Giallorossi finished sixth last season and won the inaugural Europa Conference League in May.

Roma pulled off a huge coup by signing Paulo Dybala on a free transfer and have since brought in Georginio Wijnaldum on a season-long loan deal.

Mile Svilar and Zeki Celik have also joined the Eternal City giants, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan the most-high profile player to depart – joining Inter as a free agent – and Jordan Veretout also moving on to Marseille.

A 1-0 friendly victory over Tottenham and a 5-0 rout of Shakhtar Donetsk have increased the hype ahead of Roma's first Serie A match of the season at Salernitana on Sunday, but Mourinho is playing down expectations.

The Roma head coach told reporters on Saturday: "There are teams that have an economic potential that is not comparable, I'm not saying the distance between Earth and Mars, but there are people who spend €100-150million per season. 

"We go play and do the best we can. In the championship we finished in sixth place, our squad improved, we lost Mkhitaryan and Veretout, but we took on players with whom we improved, but other clubs also did. 

"For this reason, during this period where I didn't need to talk to journalists, it amazes me when it comes to us in one way, but not about the others. Roma can be a candidate for the Scudetto if they have won 18 titles. 

"Only Sampdoria and Lecce spent less than us. Milan and Inter finished with 25 and 23 points ahead of us and improved. There is a lot of noise around us for an interesting match against Tottenham and Shakhtar. 

"We talk about us, while there is silence around other teams. Lazio spent €39 million, are they candidates for the Scudetto?"

Simone Inzaghi emphasised the importance of Inter keeping their squad together on the eve of the new Serie A campaign, as he revealed the Nerazzurri are not targeting multiple new additions.

Inter missed out on the Serie A title to rivals Milan by just two points in Inzaghi's first campaign at the helm in 2021-22, but have been tipped to regain the Scudetto after bringing in the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Andre Onana.

Meanwhile, despite Paris Saint-Germain being linked with Milan Skriniar and Chelsea touted as a possible destination for Denzel Dumfries and Alessandro Bastoni, the Nerazzurri have retained the services of other key players.

And Inzaghi is keen to ensure things remain that way, as he said a replacement for defensive back-up Andrea Rannocchia – who has joined Monza – is Inter's only transfer target.

"The team is the one that I have agreed with the company and the owners," he told a news conference ahead of Inter's Serie A opener at Lecce.

"The team will be this, we are missing a player to replace Ranocchia, the company is working on this and I think I don't have to talk about it anymore. 

"The incoming and outgoing market is closed."

Lukaku's return on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea represents one of the biggest acquisitions made by any Serie A team during the off-season, after he fired them to the 2020-21 Scudetto with 24 league goals.

Upon his San Siro comeback, Lukaku will be expected to rekindle a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez after they created 29 chances for one another – eight resulting in goals – during the Belgian's last season at Inter.

Inzaghi also has the likes of Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa to call upon as attacking options, and is pleased with the way the 29-year-old has settled back in to the Nerazzurri frontline.

"Lukaku works as well as the others, he's been out for a year, he's trying to integrate as best he can with everyone," Inzaghi added. 

 

"He's not new here, I'm very happy with him, Dzeko, Lautaro and Correa. 

"On [departing forwards Alexis] Sanchez and [Andrea] Pinamonti, we made some choices focusing on these four, who give me great guarantees.

"Tomorrow, a difficult championship starts again where many teams will fight to win like us. They have strengthened a lot, my focus is only on Lecce. 

"They are a newly promoted team who will have support and enthusiasm, it will take a real match from Inter to be able to win.

"It must be another great year, Inter have a duty to aspire to the maximum. The team is unchanged: we lost [Ivan] Perisic who was very important, but he made other choices. We brought back Lukaku, we took functional players.

"The opponents made many purchases, investing a lot, but they know that Inter will be on their way."

Juventus defender Gianluca Frabotta has joined Lecce on loan for the 2022-23 season.

The Italy Under-21 international moved to Turin from Bologna in 2019, initially featuring for the Under-23 side before making 16 appearances for Juve in the 2020-21 Serie A campaign.

With Alex Sandro, Juan Cuadrado, Danilo and Mattia De Sciglio to choose from at full-back, Frabotta was sent on loan to Hellas Verona for the 2021-22 season.

The 22-year-old made just two appearances for Verona, totalling only 18 minutes in Serie A, before returning to Juve.

Frabotta will again play his football away from the Allianz Stadium next season, signing on loan for newly promoted side Lecce on Monday.

The Juve loanee will hope to help Lecce, who start their Serie A campaign against Inter, avoid an immediate return to Serie B.

Lecce and Cremonese have earned promotion to Serie A following an eventful final day of action in Italy's second tier.

Cremonese are back in the top tier of Italian football for the first time since 1995-96, while Lecce return after a two-season absence.

Four teams were battling it out for the two automatic promotion spots on Friday, with Monza and Pisa also in contention.

Lecce led the way at the summit entering the final round of games and beat bottom side Pordenone 1-0 at home through a Zan Majer goal to see the job through.

Monza knew that they would join Lecce in the top flight had they defeated Perugia, but Gabriele Ferrarini's goal in the final five minutes condemned them to a shock 1-0 defeat.

Cremonese took full advantage by seeing off Como 2-1 at Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia thanks to a couple of goals from Samuel Di Carmine.

That rendered Pisa's 2-1 victory at Frosinone meaningless in terms of the race for automatic promotion, with the Nerazzurri having to settle for a play-off semi-final spot.

Perugia's win against Lecce saw them book a play-off quarter-final place, where Brescia await, while Ascoli will meet Benevento.

It was just as lively at the opposite end of the division, meanwhile, as there was a three-way fight to avoid the one remaining relegation place.

Alessandria's 1-0 loss to fellow strugglers Vincenza saw them join Pordenone and Crotone in dropping out of the division.

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