Fabio Grosso’s Primavera succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday afternoon, a result which sees them advance from Group H behind Sevilla, victors themselves over Lyon in the day’s other fixture.
As a runner-up in the so-called UEFA Champions League path group stage, Juventus will now face a single leg play-off in February at the home of one of the runners-up from the Domestic Champions path. Whichever side prevails will go on to the competition’s last 16.
Having impressively beaten Sevilla 2-0 in Andalusia a fortnight ago, Grosso’s young charges began the day top of the table and entered their final match against Zagreb on Wednesday knowing that a single point would be enough to see them through as group winners.
Visitors Dinamo, already resigned to finish bottom behind Lyon in third, however did not read the script as Antonio Djuric’s 77th-minute drive past Juve keeper Mattia Del Favero saw the Croatians do the double over their Italian counterparts.
Djuric’s winner was the fruit of one of few scoring chances in a tightly contested encounter in Vinovo, one that perhaps the Bianconeri were unfortunate to lose with Moise Kean, Grigoris Kastanos and Simone Muratore all spurning presentable opportunities either side of half-time.
Falling behind 13 minutes from the end, the boys in black and white redoubled their attacking efforts as Andi Zeqiri and Alessandro Semprini both went close in stoppage time but could not force what would have been all-important equaliser.
Speaking after the final whistle, coach Grosso had this to say of his team’s performance:
“Today’s game was the last of a very difficult series of fixtures in this very competitive group. We did a lot of things right today and perhaps were unjustly punished at the end."
"A draw might have been a fair result but all we can do is focus on the positives and give ourselves credit for beating both Lyon and Sevilla away from home to qualify. First place would have been ideal but the boys will give their all to make up for it in the play-offs.”