HT: Valencia scare Juventus
Mario Mandzukic’s tap-in on a Cristiano Ronaldo assist was more than Juventus needed to dispose of Valencia and book their spot in the Champions League knockouts.
As Manchester United scraped a last-gasp 1-0 win over Young Boys, Valencia are now guaranteed only a Europa League spot going forward.
The Bianconeri needed only a point to be sure of qualification, but also wanted to get back on track after the surprise home defeat to Manchester United. Sami Khedira, Emre Can and Federico Bernardeschi were out of action, while Valencia missed Ezequiel Garay and Denis Cheryshev, bringing in Mouctar Diakhaby.
Cristiano Ronaldo had two efforts in the first three minutes, as he was determined to make up for his controversial red card at the Mestalla for ruffling Jeison Murillo’s hair. Despite going down to 10 men, Juve still went on to win 2-0.
Miralem Pjanic had penalty appeals waved away for a slight Geoffrey Kondogbia nudge, with Giorgio Chiellini having a similar query rejected.
Wass saw his strike deflected just past the far post and Joao Cancelo’s curler off the outside of the right boot skimmed the far post, but Ronaldo was furious he didn’t get the pass instead.
However, Juve almost went into the break a goal down, as Wojciech Szczesny performed a stunning one-handed save on the stroke of half-time to push a Diakhaby bullet header out from under the bar.
Juan Cuadrado came on for the second half, moving Cancelo to left-back. Cristiano Ronaldo’s powerful but central free kick was smothered, but CR7 created the opening goal when he shimmied away from Gabriel and rolled a perfect ball across that Mario Mandzukic just had to tap in.
Paulo Dybala’s viciously swerving attempt was fingertipped over the bar and Neto also captured a Ronaldo header, while Mandzukic couldn’t get enough power behind his finish after a delightful Ronaldo chest and flick to pull back from the by-line.
Juventus 1-0 Valencia
Mandzukic 59 (J)
Juventus: Szczesny; Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro (Cuadrado 46); Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Dybala (Douglas Costa 79), Mandzukic, Ronaldo
Valencia: Neto; Wass, Diakhaby, Gabriel, Gayá; Coquelin, Parejo, Kondogbia (Soler 72), Guedes; Santi Mina (Batshuayi 67), Rodrigo (Gameiro 46)
Ref: Collum (SCO)
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