Goals from Arturo Vidal and Dani Osvaldo seal a 4-0 aggregate win over Trabzonspor and set up an intriguing last 16 tie with Fiorentina
A commanding display at the Huseyin Avni Aker Stadium enabled Juventus to set up an intriguing Europa League last 16 tie against Fiorentina following this evening’s 2-0 (4-0 on aggregate) triumph over Trabzonspor.
Holding a two-goal advantage from the first leg, the Bianconeri’s strong start to proceedings was eventually rewarded by Arturo Vidal’s tap-in on 18 minutes, before Dani Osvaldo headed home shortly after the half-hour mark for his second goal in as many starts.
The restart yielded further Juventus pressure without the goals to match, but Antonio Conte, who opted to rest several players ahead of Sunday’s San Siro showdown, will be more than happy with the professional approach displayed in challenging conditions.
Featuring an untested strike partnership of Dani Osvaldo and Sebastian Giovinco, Conte’s league leaders began in the ascendancy amid a hostile atmosphere which saw every touch greeted by whistles.
Undeterred, Juventus gained increasing momentum and carved out their first opportunity with just four minutes played, Mauricio Isla unleashing a strike across goal from the edge of the area, only for a combination of Onur Kivrak and the post to deny them an early advantage.
The Trabzonspor goalkeeper and captain, hailed as one of the hosts’ strengths by Gigi Buffon during yesterday’s pre-match press conference, picked up where he left off from the first leg in Turin, denying Giovinco with a well-timed dash off his line before beating Claudio Marchisio’s drive away from danger.
Following further saves from Leonardo Bonucci and Marchisio, it seemed as if it was going to be one of those nights for Juventus, who could have realistically been three or four goals to the good inside the opening 20 minutes.
Yet their persistence paid off on 20 minutes when Giovinco’s shot was parried only as far as the feet of Arturo Vidal, who gleefully dispatched an emphatic finish into the top corner.
Stung by the opening goal, Trabzonspor succeeded in stemming the black and white tide and began to show some adventure of their own with increasing spells of possession in the opposition half.
But the Bianconeri always remained a threat on the break, and this danger came to fruition when Giovinco, fed neatly into the box by Marchisio, squared for Dani Osvaldo to head home from a matter of inches on 33 minutes.
Having guided his men to a four-goal aggregate lead, Conte, with one eye on this weekend’s domestic clash against Milan, immediately opted to shuffle his pack by replacing Paul Pogba with Simone Padoin.
Still the visitors continued to press forward and Giovinco, a lively presence throughout the first half, almost fashioned a chance for Vidal with a neat through ball to the back post, but Kivrak again earned his spurs by distracting the midfielder at the vital moment.
Immediately in control from the minute Pavel Kralovec’s whistle resumed proceedings, Juventus kept the ball neatly as they probed for further gaps to appear in the hosts’ backline.
On 58 minutes, Conte made his second substitution of the evening, handing Andrea Barzagli additional playing time following his recent return from injury, with Caceres the man to make way.
Spurred on by a lively home crowd throughout the 90 minutes, Trabzonspor repaid their fans with plenty of pride and commitment and could have tested Buffon when they gained a free-kick on the edge of the box, only for Adrian Mierzejewski to guide his attempt straight into the arms of the captain.
Down the other end, on 72 minutes, Osvaldo picked out Padoin’s spirited dash into the box with a neat reverse pass, but Kivrak did just enough to take the sting out of the midfielder’s shot before recovering to scramble the ball off the line.
The remaining minutes in Turkey saw Giovinco come increasingly to the fore, and Federico Peluso will perhaps feel he should have done better with the goal at his mercy after the striker’s direct free-kick was beaten into his path.
A late Trabzonspor surge in the dying embers of the game failed to dent the Bianconeri’s hopes of keeping the hosts at bay, as Bonucci and his defensive cohorts held firm to register their third successive clean sheet in all competitions.
With a fascinating tie against Fiorentina to contest when the Europa League resumes in March, Conte’s men will now immediately turn their attentions to continuing their title charge with what would be a precious three points on Sunday evening at the San Siro.