Juventus came from behind to beat Sevilla 3-1 on Tuesday night, a result that sees the Bianconeri reclaim top spot in Group H and secure their progress to the Champions League knockout stages.
After the Rojiblancos had taken an early lead through Nicolas Pareja, Franco Vazquez’ second foul in quick succession meant he was sent off, forcing Sevilla to play for nearly an hour with just 10 men, and Juve quickly took full advantage, pegging back their hosts on the stroke of half-time through Claudio Marchisio’s penalty.
The Spaniards defended bravely thereafter to make life difficult again for Massimiliano Allegri’s men who had to wait until the 85th minute to get their noses in front for the first time in the match courtesy of Leonardo Bonucci’s piledriver from distance.
Then, deep into injury time, Mario Mandzukic steered smartly into the far corner to wrap up maximum points and a place in the Champions League last 16 with the added bonus of overtaking Jorge Sampaoli’s charges with one group game remaining.
Both sides went into the encounter knowing that a draw would make sure of their progress to the competition’s knockout stages, while a win for either would put them in the driving seat to finish as group winners.
The result was a thoroughly open start to the match with goalscoring chances aplenty, and in the ninth minute it was Rojiblancos midfielder Pareja to take his first opportunity in some style, his right-footed volley flying just inside the post from the edge of the area.
Juve’s reaction to going behind was a good one, as Juan Cuadrado’s firm cross had to be beaten away by Sevilla stopper Sergio Rico before Mandzukic curled an effort a few feet wide of the mark from outside the box.
Sami Khedira too came close with a stinging drive from distance that sailed just over the crossbar.
Moments later, the German midfielder was fouled by former Palermo man Vazquez, who was subsequently shown a second yellow card after already being booked for an earlier trip on Cuadrado.
With the hosts now down to 10 men, Juve looked to cash in on their numerical advantage and they did just that when, after a period of Bianconeri pressure, Bonucci was fouled in the box, leading referee Mark Clattenburg to award a penalty.
Up stood Marchisio, who kept his cool to sweep low past Sergio Rico’s left, even though the keeper managed to get half a glove on it before it nestled in the net.
Having drawn level by the break, the Bianconeri found it hard going to carve out many more opportunities early in the second half with Sevilla making a concerted effort to become compact and dangerous on the counter too.
Indeed, Miralem Pjanic’s low drive from the edge of the box, palmed away by Sergio Rico, was the closest they came to finding a winner until the 85th minute when Bonucci smashed home from distance.
And Bianconeri fans to have made the journey to Andalusia were soon celebrating a clinical third strike from Mandzukic, which put the victory beyond any doubt.
Now Allegri’s men turn attentions to league games against Genoa and Atalanta before welcoming Dinamo Zagreb to Juventus Stadium, where a home win would confirm their place as Group H leaders.