Football: Sluggish Italian Serie A leaders Juventus lose unbeaten record after crashing 2-0 at humble Genoa

Genoa's Stefano Sturaro (left) celebrating after scoring against Juventus during their Italian Serie A match on March 17, 2019.
Genoa's Stefano Sturaro (left) celebrating after scoring against Juventus during their Italian Serie A match on March 17, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ROME (DPA, REUTERS) - Italian Serie A dominators Juventus lost 2-0 at Genoa on Sunday (March 17) to suffer a first league defeat this season, as they left ace Cristiano Ronaldo to rest in Turin.

Ex-Juventus midfielder Stefano Sturaro came on to fire home the opener on 72 minutes and Goran Pandev, also a substitute, finished off a counter-attack on 81 minutes.

After Ronaldo inspired them with a hat-trick in Wednesday's stunning 3-0 defeat of Atletico Madrid in the Champions League to go through to the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate, Juve proved unable to maintain the tempo against brisk Genoa, who in October held the Bianconeri 1-1 in the first of their three stalemates.

Juve remain 18 points clear of Napoli, who play later at home to struggling Udinese. Genoa moved 11 points clear of the drop zone into 12th place with 10 games remaining.

"I expected a different Juventus," coach Massimiliano Allegri told Italian broadcasters. "We did not put in a good performance, we made some mistakes and then this goal came out of nowhere.

"Much like the Coppa Italia defeat to Atalanta, we picked the right game to lose, because it's just before the break for international duty, so we have time to unplug and rest."

"I am actually happy for Stefano, because if anyone had to score against us, I'm glad it was Sturaro. He's a lovely guy and suffered so much, out of action for practically a year with that tendon injury, so he deserves it."

Juve had dropped points just three times this season going into the game, with draws against Genoa, Atalanta and Parma, while they were unbeaten overall in the top flight for the last 31 rounds, since losing 1-0 to Napoli on April 22, 2018.