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Gutsy Juventus' blushes spared

China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-20 07:41

Gutsy Juventus' blushes spared

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon shows his delight after his team's 2-1 comeback victory over Sporting Lisbon in Champions League Group D in Turin on Wednesday. [Photo by Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

TURIN, Italy - Juventus snatched a late 2-1 win at home to Sporting Lisbon after gifting the Portuguese side an early lead with a bizarre own goal by Alex Sandro in their Champions League match on Wednesday.

Four days after its two-year unbeaten home run was ended by Lazio, Juve was in more trouble when goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon blocked a shot by Gelson Martins, only for the ball to rebound off Sandro and go straight into the net.

Miralem Pjanic equalized with a superb freekick in the 29th minute and, just as Sporting seemed set to frustrate the host, Mario Mandzukic netted the winner with a superb diving header in the 84th.

"We are not brilliant right now, we have had injuries, others returned from international duty in bad shape so we have work to do," said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.

"So it was an important victory. (Gonzalo) Higuain had a great performance today, with character and quality.

"Now we have to start again in Udine on Sunday to resume the championship race.

"It's never easy to win in the Champions League, we've taken a step forward, but there's a long way to go and we must try to reconnect, as some of our elements are a bit disconnected.

"It's one season up to November and another after that. After the next break for international duty is when the season will really begin."

Juventus has six points from three games in Group D, three behind leader Barcelona, while Sporting has three.

"It was a tough game and an important win. Now, we have to start improving," said Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini. "We reacted well because this team has got personality."

Already fending off talk of a crisis after taking one point from its last two Serie A games, Juventus got the worst possible start with a double mistake by Sandro in the 12th minute.

The Brazilian first failed to cut out Bruno Fernandes' pass through the Juve defense, allowing Martins a clear run on goal. Buffon managed to block the ball at Martins' feet before it ricocheted in off Sandro.

It looked like Sporting might claim its first win in Italy on its 14th attempt that shot turned out to be its only one on target all evening.

Juve quickly regained control and, after several near misses, equalized in the 29th minute when Bosnian midfielder Pjanic curled an exquisite freekick over the wall, leaving Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio rooted to the spot.

Sporting defended resolutely in the second half, while at the other end 6-foot-5 Dutch striker Bas Dost kept the Italians occupied but without seriously troubling Buffon.

A draw seemed in the cards until substitute Douglas Costa whipped over a cross from the left and Mandzukic beat his marker to score with a diving header at the far post.

Sporting coach Jorge Jesus said his team wasn't throwing in the towel.

"We're still not out of it because we're perfectly capable of winning against Juventus in Lisbon," he said.

"The result was unfavorable but we weren't inferior to Juventus."

Reuters

 

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