The Bianconeri boosted their hopes of making it through to the Champions League knockout stages by edging last night’s five-goal thriller with Olympiacos, a result which takes them joint-second with the Greeks in Group A and three points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
The fast and furious nature of the encounter, played out in the driving rain, may have set supporters’ nerves jangling, but it was the hosts’ who kept their heads when it most mattered by responding to Olympiacos’ fightback with a dramatic recovery of their own.
In his post-match interview Gigi Buffon commented how an away victory would have been “harsh” on the home side, and a quick look at the statistics reveals the goalkeeper to have been spot on in his judgement.
Dominating possession with 60.6 per cent and enjoying the lion’s share of attempts on goal across the 90 minutes (17 to 11), Massimiliano Allegri’s men set about their task with the required diligence and got the breakthrough they merited when Andrea Pirlo, now the second Italian to reach the 100 Champions League appearance milestone after Paolo Maldini, celebrated his accolade by smashing a scintillating free-kick past Roberto on 21 minutes.
Not content with settling for a goalscoring impact, the midfield maestro, whose goal was his first for Juventus in Europe’s elite club competition, was also at his metronomic best in the centre of the park, completing a total of 83 passes, the most of any player on the pitch.
But in spite of his work in maintaining possession, Olympiacos, having levelled matters through Alberto Botía in the first half, turned the game on its head shortly after the hour mark when Delvin Ndinga headed past Buffon.
A reaction was needed and it duly arrived when Fernando Llorente yielded an own goal from Roberto and Paul Pogba crowned a century of Juventus appearances by notching his first ever goal in the Champions League, with a mere 46 seconds standing in between the two game-changing strikes.
A summary of the statistics from last night’s triumph can be read below:
Pogba’s winner on 66 minutes was his first ever Champions League strike.
Crosses teased in by marauding full-backs Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah, operating in a back four for the first time this season.
Recoveries made by central defender Leonardo Bonucci, the most of any outfield player last night.
Total Champions League goals scored by Pirlo. Five have come from free-kicks.
Juventus goals struck in the last five Champions League games at Juventus Stadium.
Percentage of the team’s total passes completed by Pirlo.
Total shots on goal by the Bianconeri, six of which hit the target.
Seconds separating Roberto’s own goal and Pogba’s winner.
A clean sweep of tackles won by the Bianconeri last night, 12 out of 12.