Juventus left it late to draw 1-1 Sevilla in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday evening but it was not a memorable one for veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci.
The 36-year-old was playing his 500th competitive match for the Bianconeri and he was partly responsible for the Rojiblancos scoring in the first half. Youssef En-Nesyri scored for the Spanish team after the Juve defence got exposed on the counter-attack. Bonucci in particular was caught too high up the pitch and could not get back in time.
Wojciech Szczesny kept Juventus in the game, otherwise Sevilla could have won by more. Former Genoa winger Lucas Ocampos was a danger in the first half, forcing two saves out of the Bianconeri goalkeeper and assisting for En-Nesyri, but he came off with an injury in the 34th minute.
Bonucci was replaced by Federico Gatti after 61 minutes and it was the former Frosinone player who equalised six minutes into stoppage time after Paul Pogba headed the ball at the back post.
Both sides face each other in Seville for the second leg in one week.
Bonucci’s time at Juventus must come to an end
Aside from a brief sojourn at AC Milan, Bonucci has been a great servant for Juventus and he has won many domestic honours with the Italian giants. However, age is now against him and he is constantly caught out for a lack of pace.
At his best, the former Bari defender was a no-nonsense centre-back who was tough in challenges, but he was an excellent distributor and could score the odd goal. These days, his positioning is poor and he does not use his experience to time his movements better.
His distribution was not bad at all, completing 47 out of 50 passes, but he failed in his main task: to defend. It is time for Massimiliano Allegri to cast Bonucci aside and put greater faith in the younger Gatti.
To further justify dropping the veteran, Gatti replaced Bonucci and scored the decisive equaliser.
Referee Siebert has a game to forget
Although Juventus did not play well, it must be said the officiating from German referee Daniel Siebert was not of a standard worthy of a European semi-final.
The Bianconeri were on the receiving end of numerous cynical fouls from the Sevilla players, and the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Bryan Gil were fortunate just to receive a yellow card each.
Adrien Rabiot was fouled in the penalty area late in the game but Siebert refused to resort to a VAR check. With Gatti equalising at the death, La Vecchia Signora will now feel a sense of justice.