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Juventus 1 Manchester City 0: Mandzukic seals qualification as Juve leapfrog City

Juventus joined Manchester City in the knockout stages of the Champions League thanks to a 1-0 home victory over their Group D rivals on Wednesday.

Mario Mandzukic got the Italian champions’ first goal when they came from behind to secure a 2-1 win in Manchester on matchday one, and the Croatia striker’s 18th-minute strike was enough to seal the points this time around.

Having made sure of their own last-16 berth with a superb 3-1 win at Sevilla in their previous game, City manager Manuel Pellegrini urged his team to grab top spot with victory in Turin.

On the back of their humiliating 4-1 loss to Liverpool on Saturday, the Premier League side turned in a much improved showing but lacked cutting edge to lend Juve the advantage in the battle for a seeded place in the knockout draw.

Juve only need a point from their final match at Sevilla to finish first ahead of City, who have been dumped out by Barcelona in the past two seasons as second-place qualifiers and will now fear a similar fate against a European heavyweight.

Substitute Raheem Sterling passed up a glorious chance to equalise in the closing stages before a miserable night for Pellegrini was compounded by an apparent groin injury to Joe Hart.

City had little to show for patient build-up play during the opening stages until Kevin De Bruyne’s cross from the left broke for Fernandinho, a goalscorer against Sevilla, who blazed wastefully over on this occasion.

It was a miss the visitors would regret almost instantly as Paul Pogba orchestrated a Juventus break, skipping past De Bruyne to feed Alex Sandro before the wing-back’s measured delivery was slotted home on the volley by Mandzukic.

A stunning reaction save by Hart prevented Mandzukic from adding a second on the end of Stephan Lichtsteiner’s 28th-minute knockdown.

A woeful backpass from Claudio Marchisio almost let City striker Sergio Aguero in for an equaliser ahead of the interval but veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon stood firm.

Another wonderful Sandro cross was impressively cleared by Nicolas Otamendi with Mandzukic lurking early in the second half before City came agonisingly close to an equaliser.

Fernando guided De Bruyne’s left-wing corner towards the bottom corner, where Buffon touched his header onto the base of the post and gathered with Yaya Toure lurking.

Once again, City were at their most vulnerable having almost scored – Alvaro Morata, on for a limping Mandzukic, broke free of the away defence and his lofted attempt over Hart glanced the far post with Paulo Dybala unable to turn home.

Aguero, largely starved of service, had a 67th-minute volley deflected wide before making way for Sterling and Pellegrini’s new attacking spearhead endured a moment to forget 10 minutes from time. 

The England forward looked set to keep City in control of the race for top spot but he scuffed wide left-footed from De Bruyne’s low cross with the goal gaping.

Wed 25 Nov, 2015
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