Moise Kean’s early header proved enough to earn Juventus a 1-0 Champions League win over Malmo and top spot in Group H on Wednesday.
The Bianconeri controlled the game well but could only muster one goal despite playing a team with just one point to their name.
Federico Bernardeschi’s classy cross from the right was one of the few moments of true quality in the final third, which Kean met with a darting run to the near post in the 18th minute.
Malmo rarely threatened in the time that remained, but Juventus never looked like claiming an emphatic win either and their solitary goal proved enough to see them finish above Chelsea, who conceded a 94th-minute equaliser in their 3-3 draw with Zenit.
4 – Juventus have won their #UCL Group for the fourth season in a row, after finishing first in only one of their previous five editions of the competition. Poker.#JuventusMalmo pic.twitter.com/CtCPTz8MHb
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 8, 2021
Kean came close to opening the scoring in the sixth minute after being slipped into the area by Paulo Dybala, but the striker lashed his low effort just wide of the bottom-right corner.
The Italian made amends 12 minutes later, however, nipping in front of Ismael Diarra Diawara to nod Bernardeschi’s outstanding outside-of-the-boot cross in and put Juventus ahead.
Kean then laid the ball off to Arthur just inside the box on the stroke of half-time, but the midfielder lost his balance as he took the shot on and fired narrowly past the top-right corner.
Juventus, despite dominating the game and holding the lead, lacked conviction in the final third as Adrien Rabiot burst forward down the left and smashed a shot into the side-netting after the break.
Kean forced a low save in the 66th minute and should have doubled Juventus’ advantage with under 10 minutes remaining after Diarra Diawara spilled Rabiot’s initial effort, but the goalkeeper recovered to make a stunning save at point-blank range and deny the 21-year-old, whose contribution proved decisive in settling the group thanks to events in St. Petersburg.
What does it mean? Juventus go top after Chelsea fail to win
Juventus’ triumph was a game of little drama, but the back-and-forth between Chelsea and Zenit in Russia saw the Bianconeri’s final position in the Group H table change several times.
The Serie A side needed to better the Blues’ result to win the group and Thomas Tuchel’s men and the cards fell in their favour as stoppage-time draw meant last season’s winners were held.
Kean shows promise for the future
Kean is the second-youngest Italian goalscorer for Juventus in the Champions League at 21 years, 283 days old, behind only Alessandro Del Piero.
He would do well to match Del Piero’s exploits, but is showing promise this season with three goals in seven league games and his winner here.
De Winter’s historic debut
Koni de Winter became the youngest player to start a match in Juventus history in the Champions League at 19 years and 179 days old – 14 days younger than Ruben Olivera – and did not look out of place.
De Winter completed 57 of his 64 passes, his accuracy of 89.1 per cent fifth-best among Juventus players to start the match.
Juventus are back in action on Saturday when they travel to face Venezia in Serie A, while Malmo’s domestic season ended on December 4 as they clinched the Allsvenskan title on goal difference with a 0-0 draw against Halmstad.
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