A second-half Carlos Tevez double allowed the Bianconeri to get this season’s Champions League campaign off to a victorious introduction with this evening’s 2-0 Group A success over Malmo.
A tense first-half in which the hosts dominated possession but found clear-cut chances hard to come by eventually gave way to a more open second, with a moment of genius on 59 minutes shattering the Swedes’ robust rearguard.
Kwadwo Asamoah it was who unlocked the defence with a sublime backheel, and Tevez made no mistake by dispatching a clinical finish into the bottom corner.
The best was yet to come from the Argentine though as, on the stroke of 90 minutes, he celebrated breaking his 14-game Champions League drought in style by curling a glorious free-kick that sent Juventus Stadium into delirium.
Juventus started the brighter of the two sides but were largely frustrated in the opening period by a Malmo outfit operating with a back five and content to sit deep and strike on the counter.
It was precisely this tactic that forced the first noteworthy opportunity on 18 minutes, Magnus Eriksson arriving first at the back post to divert Markus Rosenberg’s deep cross goalwards, only to find Gigi Buffon on hand to make the block.
Asamoah, restored to the side in place of the suspended Roberto Pereyra, looked a lively presence in the centre of midfield and twice went close in five minutes with a shot and header that both finished over the top of the bar.
But despite the best efforts of the Ghanaian and his team-mate Tevez – who registered two attempts during the first-half – Juventus were unable to convert their high possession percentage into genuine goalscoring opportunities, with Malmo defending resolutely throughout.
The Argentine striker, searching for his first Champions League goal in over five years, came into his own as the clock ticked down towards the break, splitting the defence with a delicious through ball for Lichtsteiner whose subsequent cross drifted just ahead of a lurking Asamoah at the back post.
It was a similar script for the start of the second-half as Juventus enjoyed the lion’s share of possession whilst being largely restricted to long-range shots that Robin Olsen dealt with comfortably.
It seemed a moment of magic would be required to unlock a stubborn Malmo rearguard, and so it proved. A flowing forward move culminated in a delicious Asamoah backheel into the path of Tevez, who gleefully swept home on 59 minutes to break his Champions League goalscoring hoodoo.
Looking to safeguard the three points, Juventus continued to venture forward and Pogba was a whisker away from turning Patrice Evra’s cutback across the face of goal into an open net on 77 minutes.
Further chances fell in the hosts’ favour as the clock ticked down towards the final whistle and Fernando Llorente in particular was left to rue his luck after a magnificent Olsen double save prevented him from doubling the Bianconeri’s lead with seven minutes remaining.
But his strike partner Tevez managed to succeed where he had failed, curling home a magnificent free-kick in the dying embers to seal Juventus’ first Champions League opening day win since 2008.