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Juventus secure narrow 1-0 win over Sporting CP in Turin

Juventus secure narrow win over Sporting CP in Turin

Federico Gatti’s late strike ensured Juventus would take a 1-0 lead over Sporting CP into their Europa League quarter-final tie decider in Portugal next week.

The win means the Bianconeri have extended their unbeaten record at the Allianz Stadium to 14 Europa League games.

With both sides on course to miss out on a Champions League berth through their respective domestic competitions, this clash was poised to deliver a closely fought encounter.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side are looking to end a troubled season on a high. But it was not going to be a walk in the park, with Sporting brimming with confidence after knocking out Premier League leaders Arsenal in the last round.

However, Juventus began the game on the front foot, with Federico Chiesa latching on to Angel Di Maria’s long pass. But his shot from inside the 18-yard area was saved by Antonio Adan.

Chiesa’s effort set the tone for most of the half, with the Old Lady laying siege to the Sporting box, but without finding a way through.

After soaking up the early pressure, the Portuguese side, confident in their ability to pose a threat to Juventus’ resilient defence, grew into the contest.

Hidemasa Morita dragged his long-range effort just wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s post before captain Sebastian Coates tested the Polish goalkeeper with an acrobatic volley from a corner, but his effort was well saved.

As the half went by, the tides began to turn, and Ruben Amorim’s side grew in confidence, with the hosts struggling to keep the ball.

On the half-hour mark, Pedro Gonçalves forced Szczesny into a near-post save before Nuno Santos’ goalbound effort was blocked by Gleison Bremer. 

Things went from bad to worse as Szczesny was replaced by Mattia Perin on the stroke of half-time after picking up a knock, but the Bianconeri remained steadfast to head into the interval level.

Looking to slay yet another giant on the continental stage, Sporting picked up where they left off in the first half, with Goncalves drawing a save from Perin with a long-range effort just two minutes after the restart. 

Juventus looked vulnerable at times, but Sporting were guilty of lacking enough quality to capitalise and put the Old Lady to the sword.

Having missed two big chances in the game, Amorim’s side were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal as the hosts took the lead in the 73rd minute against the run of play.

With the game heading towards a share of the spoils, Juventus defender Gatti was at the right place at the right time to poke home from close range after Dusan Vlahovic’s header was cleared off the line.

Juventus saw off the remainder of the game to ensure they carry a narrow advantage to Lisbon next week when both sides renew hostility in the second leg.

They will first return to domestic action, with Sporting taking on Arouca while Juventus trade tackles with Sassuolo away from home.

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