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Chiellini gives Juventus opening win at Parma

Juventus’ Miralem Pjanic (right), duels for the ball with Parma’s Simone Iacoponi during the Serie A soccer match between Parma and Juventus at the Tardini stadium in Parma, Italy on Aug 24. (AP)

PARMA, Italy, Aug 24, (RTRS): Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini gave the titleholders a 1-0 win at Parma in the opening Serie A match of the new season on Saturday although they were without new coach Maurizio Sarri who is recovering from pneumonia.

 Chiellini flicked the ball home in the 21st minute after Parma failed to properly clear a corner to get the Turin side off to a winning start in their bid for a ninth successive title.

 Cristiano Ronaldo also had the ball in the net before halftime but his effort was ruled out after VAR showed that his shoulder was offside by a matter of millimetres when he collected Douglas Costa’s pass.

 Ronaldo squandered other chances and saw two efforts saved by Parma goalkeeper Luigi Sepe on a frustrating afternoon for the five-times World Player of the Year.

 Juventus assistant coach Giovanni Martusciello took charge of the team although Italian media said he was in constant contact with Sarri, who was diagnosed with pneumonia on Monday.

 The titleholders featured none of their new signings although Gonzalo Higuain was given a surprise start after spending last season on loan at AC Milan and then Chelsea.

 Ronaldo should have given Juventus a 12th-minute lead but sent his header over the bar after getting in front of his marker and thumped the ground in frustration.

 Juve then had a let-off as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a reflex save from Roberto Inglese’s snapshot.

 The visitors went ahead when Sepe punched clear a corner, Alex Sandro sent the ball straight back into the area and Chiellini turned it in with the goalkeeper out of his ground.

 Juventus then began to produce some of the pinball passing which has become Sarri’s trademark and one incisive move ended with Ronaldo shooting wide.

 The 34-year-old thought he had scored in the 36th minute but, after Juventus had completed their celebrations, the goal was chalked off for offside.

 Sepe denied Ronaldo with a flying save in the second half while Parma went agonisingly close to a stoppage-time equaliser when Hernani’s free kick fizzed past Szczesny’s post.

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