TURIN: Alvaro Morata opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time and Simone Zaza hit his maiden Champions League goal at the death as Juventus dominated Sevilla 2-0 to go top of Group D on Wednesday.
Juventus, last season’s beaten finalists, welcomed Unai Emery’s Europa League champions to Turin looking to prove that the poor domestic form that has seen them slump to 15th in Serie A is simply a blip.
Less than a month after their shock 2-1 win at City’s Etihad Stadium, Juventus are already well on course to qualify for the knockout stages.
All Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri wants now is to see Juve cut a copy of Wednesday’s performance and paste it to the remainder of their Serie A games this season following a miserable start that has left them 10 points adrift of leaders Fiorentina.
When asked to explain their contrasting form at home and in Europe, Allegri failed to provide an explanation. “The big difference is we have six points from the Champions League [in two games] and five from Serie A [in six games],” he said.
Yet in Europe, the Bianconeri seem transformed. Despite Sevilla’s own domestic woes, not even the most optimistic Juve fan would have guessed how quickly Unai Emery’s injury-hit side was ready to surrender arms.
Juventus were in complete command from the outset and finally broke the deadlock on 41 minutes when Morata rose above the Sevilla defence to meet Juan Cuadrado’s delivery from the right byline and beat Rico down low at his far post.
“I’m delighted to have scored but even happier about our performance and the result,” said the former Real Madrid man. ”
The two Manchester clubs enjoyed victories in a happier night for England, while the individual performance of the evening came, not for the first time, from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Manchester United and City were made to work hard for 2-1 wins against German clubs Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach respectively; 24 hours after Chelsea and Arsenal had both crashed to defeats.
Former United star Ronaldo, meanwhile, scored his 500th career goal and then equalled Raul Gonzalez Blanco’s club record tally of 323 goals for Real Madrid as the Spaniards won 2-0 against Malmo in Sweden.
“It was very difficult because they scored so early,” said United manager Louis van Gaal. “Then we did very well. We created a lot of chances. But we don’t finish it and it was a lucky penalty, I think.”
The Premier League leaders now find themselves in a four-way tie on three points in Group B after CSKA Moscow defeated PSV Eindhoven 3-2 in Russia.
Meanwhile, City had Sergio Aguero to thank for winning and then scoring a last-gasp penalty as they beat Gladbach 2-1 at Borussia-Park in the other Group D match, securing a precious victory after they lost at home to Juventus in their first outing.
In Sweden, Mateo Kovacic and Isco combined to set up Ronaldo for the opener, his 500th career goal in 753 games, in the first half of Madrid’s clash with Malmo in Group A. The hosts had Yoshimar Yotun sent off before Ronaldo made sure of the win at the death, and equalled Raul’s tally.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.
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