Friday, March 24, 2017

Juventus 1 Porto 0 (3-0 agg): Dybala strike dumps out 10-man Porto

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Mar 2017


Juventus reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for only the second time in four years after a 1-0 win over 10-man Porto gave them a 3-0 aggregate victory.

The Italian champions’ 2-0 win in Portugal three weeks earlier ensured they went into the second leg in a comfortable position, and there was to be no miraculous fightback from Porto when Maxi Pereira was sent-off for deliberate handball after 40 minutes.

His indiscretion allowed Paulo Dybala to score from the penalty spot and Juventus went on to keep their sixth clean sheet in eight Champions League matches, extending an unbeaten run of home games that reaches back to August 2015.

Beaten finalists in 2015, Juventus have failed to win Europe’s top competition since 1996 but Massimiliano Allegri’s side are clinical in attack and imperious in defence, conceding just twice in the tournament this season.

Porto, who had scored 12 goals without reply in their three games between the two legs against Juventus, left Turin having had their game plan ruined not only by Pereira’s moment of madness but by an impenetrable defensive unit marshalled by Leonardo Bonucci and Medhi Benatia.

Allegri called for his side to approach the match professionally despite their lead and they did just that, with Alex Sandro bursting down the left wing and crossing for Dybala to shoot over the crossbar in the third minute.

Porto grew in confidence the more that Danilo Pereira saw of the ball, and the 25-year-old charged through midfield before squaring to Soares whose shot went straight into the arms of Gianluigi Buffon.

Iker Casillas had his first save to make after 23 minutes when Juan Cuadrado’s whipped cross was thundered towards goal by Mario Mandzukic’s downward header, but the veteran Spanish goalkeeper was ideally placed to catch it.

Just as Porto looked to have held out until half-time, Juventus piled forward and Maxi Pereira dived to block Gonzalo Higuain’s shot with his arm, leaving the referee with no choice but to send him off and award a penalty, which Dybala calmly slotted into the bottom right corner of the net.

Casillas, making his 175th appearance in European competitions to claim Paolo Maldini’s record, was called into action straight after half-time to save Danilo’s backwards header that was on its way inside the foot of the post before the 35-year-old dived down to stop it.

Soares had a gilt-edged opportunity to reduce the deficit seconds later, shaking off Dani Alves and going one-on-one with Buffon, but he opened his body and side-footed the shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

Mandzukic’s exquisite back-heel teed up substitute Marko Pjaca for a chance from close range but he dragged his shot wide, and Dybala failed to apply a quality finish on the volley when Alex Sandro floated a wonderful cross into his path.

Porto substitute Diogo Jota had a chance to salvage some pride when he went through on goal in the closing stages, but he over hit his chip and the chance went begging along with Porto’s European campaign for another year.


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