Samuel Chukwueze and his Villarreal teammates impressed as they held Italian giants Juventus to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio de La Ceramica in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash.
Having finished second behind Manchester United in their group, Villarreal were drawn against Juventus, who finished first in their own group. Villarreal manager Unai Emery chose to play Super Eagles star Chukwueze from the start after he rested him at the weekend.
Before they had time to think, Villarreal found themselves behind in front of their own fans. Juventus’ €70 million new signing Dusan Vlahovic announced his arrival on the Champions League scene in style.
A long ball forward from Danilo after Villarreal gave away possession found the run of Vlahovic in behind, and the striker took the pass in his stride before drilling a shot across Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli with his right foot while running away from goal. His goal came only 32 seconds after kickoff.
After Juventus scored, the game settled into a much more even contest, with Villarreal giving as good as they got against their illustrious opposition.
On-loan Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Giovani Lo Celso saw an effort come back off the post after 13 minutes before Chukwueze showed his trickery to get past Mattia De Sciglio and cross for Arnaut Danjuma, whose backheel was well saved by Wojciech Szczesny in the Juventus goal.
Juventus also had chances of their own, with Weston McKennie, Manuel Locatelli and Alvaro Morata, in particular, guilty of failing to convert against Villarreal.
The home side finally got the reward for their endeavour throughout the game as Spanish midfielder Dani Parejo ran onto a cross from Villarreal teammate Etienne Capoue before smashing a first-time shot past Szczesny to draw the reigning Europa League champions level in the 66th minute.
Chukwueze escaped serious injury after a terribly-timed tackle from Adrien Rabiot saw him catch the Villarreal winger high and late with his studs, but the referee decided that a yellow card was enough punishment for the Juventus midfielder.
Both sides held on to what they had and were unable to add more goals, setting up a blockbuster second leg clash in Turin in three weeks’ time.