Juventus tightened their hold on top spot in Group H of the UEFA Champons League with a late 1-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg in Russia.
Dejan Kulusevski was the difference-maker on the night as Juventus ensured they came away from Zenit St Petersburg with all three points in the bag. The Italian giants were given a real fight by the Russians who matched them for 86 minutes of the game.
The win maintains Juventus’s perfect start to their Champions League campaign and they have nine points from the first three games. In a game that effectively saw both sides cancel each other out, Juventus had more quality and difference-makers available and it showed.
It was a game that saw wingers from both sides excel. Claudinho was impressive for Zenit and forced Wojciech Szczesny into a fine save early on. Federico Chiesa was equally impressive for the visitors and had three chances o have a pop at goal. Unfortunately, the Italian sensation was unable to make a difference on the night.
With the game heading to a goalless draw, it seemed apt that a substitute would be the one to break the deadlock. He diverted Mattia De Sciglio’s cross back past Stan Kritsyuk and into the far corner to give the visitors the victory.
Another ??? night ?, another ??? win! ?#ZenitJuve #ForzaJuve #JuveUCL pic.twitter.com/4YH3oAstS4
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 20, 2021
With Chelsea breathing down their necks, the win will give Allegri’s side leverage to hold onto the top spot in the games to come. The trip to Stamford Bridge in two weeks time will present a bigger challenge and Allegri’s men will have to considerably up their performance against the defending champions.
But for now, they have eked out yet another result. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how the Juventus players performed on the night.
Wojciech Szczesny: 6/10
The Polish star was alert and did well to keep Claudinho at bay. Was threatened very little apart from that on the night.
Mattia De Sciglio: 7/10
A solid outing for the Italian defender. Made use of his pace to keep up with Artem Dzyuba, largely shackling the admittedly slow striker. Provided an excellent cross to break the deadlock as he continues to put in dependable performances.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
It was the Italian veteran’s 100th game in the UEFA Champions League. Looked calm and composed with the ball at his feet and dealt mostly with whatever was thrown his way. Exhibited some sloppiness while coming out of the defence with the ball but was thankfully not punished for it.
?? Man of the Match tonight and @bonucci_leo19 is already looking onto the next one! ?#ZenitJuve #ForzaJuve #JuveUCL pic.twitter.com/UxUTnKujJi
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) October 20, 2021
Matthijs de Ligt: 7/10
The young Dutchman was impressive on the night and relished the physical matchup with Dzyuba. Deserves credit for his aggressive approach as he came out on top more often than not. A good performance by a player who hasn’t really showcased the consistent performances expected of him.
Alex Sandro: 6/10
Did not do anything wrong but then did little of note as well. He struggled to make much of a difference in the final third as Juventus looked to push on and try to win the game.
Manuel Locatelli: 5/10
An uncharacteristically quiet night for the summer signing. Locatelli looked rather subdued and struggled to get going. There will be much better performances from him in the games to come and was rightfully subbed off.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 6/10
Solid yet unspectacular. The Juventus star was calmness personified in the middle of the park and helped the visitors keep their shape. He also won back the ball a few times and looked assured in possession.
Weston McKennie: 6/10
A lively presence on the night, McKennie dis his vest to get behind the Zenit defence on numerous occasions. He looked to have done so early in the second half but saw his shot saved by Stanislav Kritsyuk. Also flashed a header wide late on.
Federico Bernardeschi: 5/10
A poor performance from the experienced winger who looked far off the pace on the night. He lost the ball several times, almost gifting the lead to the home side. Did little to make the most of possession in attack.
Another very important win in @ChampionsLeague! We don’t stop! ?? ⚪️⚫️ #ForzaJuve #UCL pic.twitter.com/QUxCTBKl86
— Federico Bernardeschi (@fbernardeschi) October 20, 2021
Alvaro Morata: 6/10
The returning Spaniard had little joy up front and was largely in Dejan Lovren’s pocket. He did however present McKennie with an excellent chance that the midfielder failed to convert. Will have to do much better if he is to be Juventus’s ace striker.
Federico Chiesa: 7/10
Often Juventus’s standout player this season and it showed. Zenit were well aware of his talents and did their best to mark him out. Chiesa’s quality however shone through as he carved out chances for himself. Came close to breaking the deadlock but could not manufacture that final touch.
Juan Cuadrado: 7/10
the South American star added some zing into Juventus’s attack. The Italians looked more purposeful following the Colombian’s introduction. He did however give away the ball cheaply, almost leading to a goal at the other end.
Dejan Kulusevski: 8/10
The hero of the night, Kulusevski looked like a man on a mission and looked the part hen he came on. Did well to glance Di Sciglio’s cross expertly into the Zenit goal. Whether he will replace Bernardeschi for the trip to Stamford Bridge remains to be seen.
Arthur Melo: 6/10
Replaced the ineffective Manuel Locatelli for the final half-hour of the game. He provided more than the Italian and looked assured in performance. Solid but nothing special to write home about.
Moise Kean: 6/10
The hero at the weekend against AS Roma, Kean replaced Morata in the 76th minute. Did not really do much to stand out by any stretch.
Aaron Ramsey: N/A
Replaced Rodrigo Bentancur late on. Had little to no time to make any impact.
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