Sunday, June 4, 2023

Sporting CP 1-1 Juventus (1-2 agg): Rabiot strikes as Bianconeri reach semi-finals

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Apr 2023


Juventus reached the Europa League semi-finals as a 1-1 draw against Sporting CP at Estadio Jose Alvalade sealed a 2-1 aggregate triumph.

Buoyed by learning prior to Thursday’s second leg that their 15-point deduction in Serie A for financial breaches had been suspended, Adrien Rabiot struck early on to double Juve’s lead in the tie after Federico Gatti had given them a slender advantage in last week’s reverse fixture at Allianz Stadium.

Marcus Edwards quickly pulled one back for Sporting from the penalty spot after Rabiot’s foul on Manuel Ugarte, but resilient defending saw the Bianconeri through.

Juve will feature in a European semi-final for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign and will do battle with Sevilla for a place in the final after they knocked Manchester United out.

Juve took the lead after only nine minutes as Rabiot was first to a loose ball in the box from a corner and lashed into the bottom left-corner.

Sporting were offered a way back into the tie when Rabiot brought down Ugarte in the area, with referee Francois Letexier pointing to the spot and Edwards firing the ball straight down the middle as Wojciech Szczesny dived to his left.

The hosts nearly drew level on aggregate when Ousmane Diomande nodded just wide before half-time, and they nearly fell further behind after the interval when Dusan Vlahovic failed to get his header on target.

Sporting pressed for a goal that would force the game into extra-time and nearly found one when Ricardo Esgaio blazed just over the crossbar, but Massimiliano Allegri’s men held on to reach the last four.

What does it mean? Courageous display sees Juve advance

With just a one-goal lead and heading to play a team who were unbeaten in six on home turf in all competitions in Sporting, Juve could have crumbled in front of a vociferous home crowd.

But Rabiot’s goal calmed the nerves, and although Edwards pulled one back and they had to deal with some anxious moments late on, the Bianconeri deserved to progress, restricting the Portuguese side to just two shots on target.

It capped a good day for Juve after they rose to third in Serie A following the return of their 15 points, although the FIGC Federal Court of Appeal will re-evaluate the case, so the Turin giants may still face punishment.

Alex Sandro a rock on return to Portugal

Having played for Sporting’s rivals Porto between 2011 and 2015, veteran full-back Alex Sandro had a great game on his return to Portugal.

No Juve player had more successful tackles (two), interceptions (two) and clearances (eight) than him, helping his side to see the game out.

Esgaio miss costly

Sporting opportunities were few and far between against a stubborn Juve backline, but they must have fancied their chances of levelling when the ball sat up for Esgaio to hit late on.

However, the wing-back lost composure at the crucial moment, lashing the ball over the bar.

What’s next?

Juve host runaway Serie A leaders Napoli on Sunday, while Sporting travel to Vitoria the following day.


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