Italian Champions Juventus have secured their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout round in emphatic fashion, offering Shakhtar Donetsk a defensive masterclass at the Donbass Arena. The 1-0 defeat of the Ukrainian side ensures the Bianconeri finish top of Group E, joining Shakhtar in the knockout phases of the competition.
From the onset, the Bianconeri looked set to prove a point, not willing to sit and rest on their laurels. Sebastian Giovinco looked dangerous early, and when the Italian cut in from the right side and unleashed a shot at Andriy Pyatov, Juventus' intentions were made clear.
Shakhtar's Brazilian duo of Fernandinho and Willian were looking dangerous as per usual, but a resolute Giorgio Chiellini nullified the exploits of the home side's midfielders early on.
A foul on Kwadwo Asamoah 20 minutes in gave Juventus an opportunity to open the scoring from a set-piece. Andrea Pirlo lifted a ball into the box, and after a goalmouth scramble, Juventus' claims for a penalty due to a handball were waved away by Jonas Eriksson.
It wasn't until the 30th minute that Juventus and the game really kicked into gear. Following patient build-up play from both sides, Mirko Vucinic did remarkably well to latch onto a Stephan Lichtsteiner pass. The Montenegrin expertly used his body to shake off a challenge from Eduardo before finding Giovinco in the box unmarked. The Italian ultimately dragged his left-footed shot wide—much to the delight of the Shakhtar faithful.
Amidst stoppages to tend to injuries to Vucinic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the game was mostly played in the middle third of the field in the first half. With Chelsea leading FC Nordsjaelland by this point in the match, the travelling Bianconeri were on edge, with a single Shakhtar goal enough to send them out.
In the closing phases of the first half, Giovinco almost opened the scoring. After picking up the ball from within the Shakhtar half, the Atomic Ant unleashed a 30 yard drive at Pyatov. Despite the swerve, Shakhtar's keeper was able to comfortably save it, and the first half finished 0-0.
Shakhtar began the second half the brighter of the two sides, introducing Marko Devic to the fray. Following a free-kick by Darijo Srna, Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon could only manage to parry the ball away to Alex Teixiera. The Brazilian's quickly taken shot went wide of the post.
With the game opening up in the second half and Chelsea taking full control of their tie in England, Juventus found themselves with their hearts in their mouths when Mikhitaryan decided to unleash a furious drive at Buffon from a tight angle. The Armenian's drive flew to the left of Buffon's upright—albeit marginally.
Despite experiencing an extended scoring drought, Juventus forward Mirko Vucinic was proving influential in Juve's attack once again. And when he found Lichtsteiner unmarked down the right hand side, the Swiss international found the feet of Giovinco in the box. After a small tangle, Olexandr Kucher inadvertently found the back of his own net, giving Juventus a one goal lead.
With their home record looking broken Shakhtar continued to press forward. Desperation to preserve this record ultimately resulted, however, in a booking for simulation. Mkhitaryan tried to draw a penalty from a Barzagli challenge after receiving minimal contact from the Italian and despite protests was shown a yellow card.
Juventus proved why they are real contenders in this year's competition, comprehensively dominating possession late. Fans will be disappointed in the harsh booking of Giorgio Chiellini—which will see the Italian miss the Old Lady's next clash. 1-0 it finished, Juventus and Shakhtar progressing ahead of the defending European Champions.
Full Time: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Juventus.
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