13 April 2023
Juventus earned a narrow victory in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals against Sporting CP. The game’s only goal came from Federico Gatti, with his first goal for the club. With a double stop in stoppage time, Mattia Perin made sure the Bianconeri take a 1-0 win to defend in Lisbon next week.
Massimiliano Allegri picked three in attack, Arek Milik flanked by Federico Chiesa and Ángel Di María. In fact, Juventus set out to exploit the pace of Chiesa, who looked the most dangerous of the Bianconeri in the opening phases.
On 11 minutes the vision of Di María saw Chiesa on the run and the pass from El Fideo was inch perfect. Chiesa brought the ball down with one touch, with the second he struck his shot, which forced a clever stop from Adan. The Sporting keeper was called into action four minutes later. This time Chiesa popped up on the right wing when his low cross was cut out by the Spanish shotstopper.
Sporting then came more into the game as an attacking force, and it was the Juve keeper that would be the busier of the two. The first scare came on 20 minutes when Hidemasa Morita drilled a low shot just wide. Nine minutes later, following a corner, Coates hit a volley which brought out an excellent save from Wojciech Szczęsny, who a minute later made a similar save from Pedro Gonçalves. The visitors continued to create and Nuno Santos saw his effort cleared off the line by Filip Kostić.
In the closing minutes of the first half Szczęsny was taken off after receiving treatment, replaced by Mattia Perin. Sporting were also forced into a change with Jeremiah St. Juste coming off injured.
The second half, if possible, was even tighter than the opening 45 minutes. Both sides made double substitutions just after the hour mark in a bid to find the key to unlock the opposing defence. However, it was once again the pace of Chiesa that caused the Sporting defence problems. His low cross was inviting but found no takers. However, from the resulting corner kick Juve took the lead.
The delivery from Di María caught out Adan. Dušan Vlahović took advantage to head goalwards. Two Sporting players combined to clear the ball off the line but Federico Gatti was there to pounce inside the six-yard box to prod the ball into the net.
The defender’s first goal for Juve, and it was huge.
The visitors set out to grab an equaliser but it was only in stoppage time that they actually created scoring chances, two in succession, and both times Perin the stops on the goalline to ensure Juve held on for a fourth straight win in the Europa League - all achieved without conceding a goal along the way.
In a week’s time, the return leg in Lisbon, with qualification for the semi-finals on the line.
JUVENTUS 1-0 SPORTING CP (HT: 0-0)
Scorers: 73’ Gatti
JUVENTUS: Szczęsny; (41′ Perin); Gatti, Bremer, Danilo; Cuadrado, Locatelli (85′ Paredes), Rabiot, Kostic (63′ Fagioli); Di Maria (85′ Pogba), Chiesa; Milik (63′ Vlahovic). Subs not used: Pinsoglio, Kean, Bonucci, Miretti, Rugani. Coach: Allegri.
SPORTING CP: Adan; St.Juste (45+3′ Diomande), Inacio, Coates; Esgaio (77′ Bellerin), Gonçalves, Morita, Nuno Santos (63′ Reis); Edwards (77′ Issahaku), Chermiti (63′ Gomes), Trincao. Subs not used: Israel, André Paulo, Alexandropoulos, Luis Neto, Rochinha, Tanlongo, Essugo. Coach: Amorim.
BOOKINGS: 20′ Inacio, 24′ Rabiot