Teenager Sebastian Pasquali shines for Melbourne Victory vs. Juventus
Sebastian Pasquali, 16, stole the show in a match between Serie A champions Juventus and hometown heroes Melbourne Victory on Saturday night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The talented teenager, yet to sign a contract with the A-League club, was thrown into the fray of their International Champions Cup match during the second half.
He barely put a foot wrong against the Italian giants, impressing with his poise and distribution.
Come the penalty shootout, Pasquali stepped up to score the ultimately decisive kick, pumping his fist as he wheeled away.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat allowed himself to be drawn into the moment, laughing and cheering at his exuberance.
There were reasons to be disappointed by the match. Juventus let down many by leaving their stars at home and Melburnians repaid the favour by staying away.
But the 23,174 that turned up might just have seen the start of a special talent.
"We asked him to come on and contribute, to effect the game, and he did," Muscat said. "It was a big night for him."
Muscat was keen to remain balanced about Pasquali's future, cautioning against "getting too excited."
But he wouldn't rule out appearances in the A-League this season for the Wangaratta product who is expected to join on a youth contract.
"Who knows? It's a big ask," he said. "He wouldn't be involved in the squad if he didn't have some sort of ability.
"He's only very fresh and just starting his senior professional career.
"He'll continue with his studies which are important not only to him but to us. We'll nurture him."
All three of Victory's offseason signings featured in the match: Mitch Austin and James Donachie from the first whistle and Alan Baro as a substitute.
Muscat was particularly pleased with Austin, who looks at ease on Victory's left flank.
"He's got some big weapons. He can get by people with his pace," he said.
"He's not going to get pushed off the ball and once he's got his shoulder across there's no coming back.
"He's got a decent delivery and Bes [Berisha] was licking his lips whenever the ball went out there."