Juventus are not only through to the Champions League last 16, but also finished top of their group after a 1-0 victory away to Shakhtar Donetsk.
In the other Group E game, Chelsea crushed Nordjsaelland 6-1 in a game where both sides had penalties saved, but the result was irrelevant and the English club become the first reigning champions to go out in the first round.
The Bianconeri needed a point to be sure of reaching the Champions League knockouts, whereas the Ukrainians were already qualified. Juve would only go out if they lost here and Chelsea beat Nordsjaelland under new manager Rafa Benitez.
Paul Pogba stepped in for the suspended Claudio Marchisio, while Giorgio Chiellini made his comeback from a calf injury. Luiz Adriano was banned for Shakhtar after his ‘anti-sporting’ goal that went viral around the world, replaced by Eduardo. It was also Angelo Alessio’s final game on the Juventus bench, as Antonio Conte’s ban in the betting scandal expires this week.
Shakhtar started very aggressively and Andrea Barzagli was fortunate to get away with an error on the edge of his own box. Arturo Vidal was booked for a shirt-tug on Willian after just seven minutes and Mirko Vucinic volleyed well over from a Sebastian Giovinco cross.
Andrea Pirlo and Giorgio Chiellini were furious on 21 minutes, as the free kick found the defender’s header, which struck Fernandinho’s hand. The referee waved play on.
The Italians got more control of the midfield as the half wore on and Vidal just failed to control a long ball when he had sprung the offside trap.
Mirko Vucinic created a fantastic opportunity when he pounced on an Olexandr Kucher error, rode another tackle and rolled across for Sebastian Giovinco who unmarked hit a daisy-cutter inches wide of the upright.
Chiellini’s calf problem flared up again and he requested a substitution, but changed his mind and was able to continue going into half-time.
Vucinic intercepted a Yaroslav Rakitskiy pass in the final third, but then the Shakhtar defender did enough to get in his way and a free kick went against the striker. Pogba lost his balance when trying to push through in the box, then Darijo Srna risked an own goal on Stephan Lichtsteiner’s dangerous cross towards Pogba. Giovinco went for goal from distance and it was caught by Andriy Pyatov in stoppages.
Shakhtar had their first shot on goal within 60 seconds of the restart, Gigi Buffon comfortably controlling a long-range Rakitskiy strike.
Moments later Buffon had to change direction to punch away a powerful Rakitskiy free kick, then Fernandinho blasted the follow-up wide.
Pirlo went close too, as he drilled an angled drive from the edge of the box that clipped the outside of the post. It was wide open now, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan went on the counter and flashed a shot wide.
Juventus broke the deadlock on 56 minutes, as Lichtsteiner was on the edge of the offside trap down the right and fired a fierce cross for Giovinco, but it looked as if Kucher got the final touch from six yards to bundle it over the line.
Lichtsteiner went on another blazing run and this time his shot was deflected wide for a corner. However, Shakhtar had no intention of finishing second in the group – which defeat to Juventus would mean – so fought back and hit the post with substitute Ilsinho from point-blank range, getting between two defenders.
There was absolute chaos in the Shakhtar box, as Vucinic went clear on goal from the centre-circle and took it past the goalkeeper who was well out of the box, but he narrowed the angle and rolled across for Giovinco, who had a shot charged down and Vidal fired the follow-up wide.
Vucinic and Vidal got in each others’ way, so the header from Lichtsteiner’s cross was scuffed. Mkhitaryan was booked for simulation, then set up a chance that Mark Devic saw charged down. Lichtsteiner went clear again down the right, but his cross was between Giovinco and Vucinic.
Chiellini was harshly booked for a shirt tug at the 87th minute, meaning he’ll be suspended for the next match, as they seemed to be wrestling each other in midfield.
A scuffle broke out in the final minute as Kucher clattered into Buffon, so Lichtsteiner reacted angrily in defence of his teammate, but the goalkeeper restored calm.
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Juventus
Scorers: Kucher og 56 (J)
Shakhtar Donetsk: Pyatov; Srna, Kucher, Rakitskiy, Rat; Fernandinho, Stepanenko; Alex Teixeira (Ilsinho 65), Mkhitaryan, Willian; Eduardo (Devic 46)
Juventus: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pirlo, Pogba, Asamoah; Vucinic (Matri 88), Giovinco (Giaccherini 92)
Ref: Eriksson (SWE)
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