Juventus beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday as Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba faced their former clubs.
Ronaldo will be the happier of the two as he helped the Bianconeri come out on top and he supplied the cross for Paulo Dybala's 17th-minute strike.
Dybala converted from close range after Ronaldo's cross came off Chris Smalling, as he intervened to prevent it reaching Juan Cuadrado.
Juventus dominated much of the possession, and if not for a strong performance from David De Gea it could have been a much more one-sided scoreline.
The Spaniard tipped over Blaise Matuidi's follow-up after beating away a swerving Ronaldo free-kick, and he had to pull a save out of the top drawer to deny a venomous effort from Ronaldo in the second half.
United improved slightly after the break, but rarely troubled the visitors' goal outside of Pogba curling an effort onto the woodwork.
United Are out of Their Depth in the Champions League
It may come as little surprise given their domestic struggles, which has left them nine points behind their rivals in the Premier League already, but United's limitations in all areas of the pitch mean they're well out of their depth in the Champions League against a side of Juve's calibre.
The Red Devils will have aspirations of rivalling teams like Juventus on the biggest stage but, despite the close scoreline, they were nowhere near their Italian visitors on Tuesday.
As Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News noted, there was a gulf in class in the first half:
Not for the first time this season, United were disjointed in midfield and porous in defence.
The hosts' midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata and Pogba struggled to get close to their Juventus counterparts, with Matic looking particularly out of sorts as he failed to keep up. Exposed by their lack of protection in midfield, United's defence was repeatedly vulnerable and De Gea played a big role in keeping the scoreline down.
Sports writers Daniel Harris and Liam Canning noted their struggles:
Things were little better up front, with Romelu Lukaku far too static and receiving little service as United's midfield struggled to link up with their forward line.
The Red Devils can still make it out of their group—they're two points clear of Valencia with four matches remaining—but without significant improvement they won't make it far in the knockout phase.
Ronaldo Has Found The Way to Win with Juve
Ronaldo may not have gotten on the scoresheet on Tuesday as he'd have been hoping, but he put in a fine performance at Old Trafford and Juventus will benefit if he can replicate it each week.
The forward has been brought in to score goals and he has five for his new side, but at times since his arrival in the summer, his insistence on being the main man and Juve's desire to show off their new asset has disrupted the team's flow.
On Tuesday, Ronaldo came to his former side with a point to prove, but rather than doing so by making it all about himself, he played as part of the team and Juventus looked all the stronger for it.
As the Press Association's Simon Peach noted early on, Ronaldo's movement was creating opportunities for his team-mates:
Rather than waiting for his team to lay on chances for him to score, the 33-year-old was much more active than usual and showed what else he can bring to the party, per the New York Times' Rory Smith:
The approach paid off when he made a darting run down the right—escaping Anthony Martial in the process—and supplied the cross that led to Dybala's decisive strike.
If Ronaldo plays like this every week, it will make Juventus an even stronger contender for the Champions League title.
United Will Keep Struggling Until They Take the Initiative Early in Games
All too often under manager Jose Mourinho, United have been guilty of starting matches slowly and allowing their opponents to gain an early foothold in the contest.
Tuesday was no different, and the Red Devils quickly found themselves on the back foot as Juventus controlled the possession and the tempo of the game.
As ESPN's Rob Dawson noted, it has become a common sight to see them go behind this season:
United looked stronger in the second half as they tried to push for a goal, but unlike their recent comeback against Newcastle United at Old Trafford, on this occasion, they faced a team that excel in seeing out matches from winning positions.
The Independent's Miguel Delaney believes a change is needed:
Until United set out to take the initiative in their matches from the outset, they'll continue to struggle to pick up wins.
Juventus travel to Empoli on Saturday in Serie A, while United host Everton in the Premier League a day later.
The pair will face one another for the second time in the Champions League on November 7 when the competition returns, this time at the Juventus Stadium.