18.10.2017 23:19 - in: Match report S

    Juventus battle from behind to beat Sporting

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    The Bianconeri overcome Sporting CP in dramatic fashion thanks to goals in either half by Pjanic and Mandzukic

    Juventus sealed three precious points for their Champions League campaign by beating Sporting Clube de Portugal 2-1 at the Allianz Stadium on Wednesday night.

    This was a night in which the Bianconeri had to call upon every ounce of Fino Alla Fine spirit that they could muster after conceding the most unfortunate of own goals by Alex Sandro early on.

    However, with the backing of their home support, Juve rolled up their sleeves, dug deep and ultimately reaped their rewards with Miralem Pjanic levelling with a stunning free-kick on the half-hour mark and Mario Mandzukic heading in an 84th-minute winner to seal arguably the most significant victory of the season so far.

    This was far from a straightforward evening: after a quiet opening period, Juventus suddenly went 1-0 down in the 12th-minute. With Gelson Martins bearing down on goal in a one-on-one against Gianluigi Buffon, the Bianconeri captain initially blocked his shot, but the onrushing Alex Sandro unwittingly turned into his own net on the rebound.

    Far from letting their heads drop, the Bianconeri launched attack after attack on Rui Patricio’s goal, the Portugal keeper saving from Sami Khedira and Mandzukic before Pjanic was fouled by Rodrigo Andrés Battaglia to win a free-kick 25 yards out – very much his kind of territory.

    Pjanic has built a reputation over the years as one of the games’ most lethal set-piece specialists, scoring a number of gems already for Juventus and the Bosnian would not let the home faithful down this time with what was perhaps his most important goal to date in black and white, curling an absolute beauty over the wall and into the top corner.

    The Bianconeri now had the bit between their teeth and came close to getting their noses in front just a minute later when Mandzukic saw a shot deflected whiskers wide; and Juve kept up the pressure right up until half-time with Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain both bringing saves out of Rui Patricio, while Juan Cuadrado very nearly got his head onto a cross guided towards the far post by Khedira.

    Looking to take momentum with them after the interval, Massimiliano Allegri’s men carved out a couple of half-chances early in the second period, as Pjanic and then Dybala got away a pair of shots that however went straight down the throat of Rui Patricio.

    The keeper would be called into action once again in the 70th minute, getting his body behind Mandzukic’s low, powerful header from Dybala’s corner. In the meantime, however, Sporting were frustrating their hosts with some solid possession in midfield, even if they never actually tested Buffon.

    With the clock ticking down towards full-time, it looked as though Jorge Jesus’ side would hold on for a point, but one man had very different ideas: Mandzukic came into tonight’s game with three goals in his last three Champions League matches and he made that four from four in the 84th minute with a bullet header to direct Douglas Costa’s cross – the Brazilian winger’s first touch of the game after coming on less than a minute earlier – beyond Rui Patricio and into the bottom corner.

    Allianz Stadium duly erupted with joy before backing the Bianconeri all the way over the finish line to a win that sees Allegri and company now sit on six points and second place in Group D at the halfway point of the group stage.

    Now attentions turn to Serie A, with Juve heading to Udinese this Sunday (18.00 CEST kick-off).

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