Wednesday September 27 2017
CL: Higuain breaks Olympiakos

Juventus took a long time to break down Olympiakos, but Gonzalo Higuain came off the bench to score one and help create another for Mario Mandzukic.

See how this game and Qarabag-Roma unfolded on the Liveblog.

The Bianconeri had a perfect record in Serie A, but lost the Champions League opener 3-0 to Barcelona, so needed to get off the mark here. Claudio Marchisio, Mattia De Sciglio, Benedikt Howedes and Marko Pjaca were out with Sami Khedira not fully fit, but Miralem Pjanic pulled out in the warm-up, replaced by Rodrigo Bentancur. Gonzalo Higuain was dropped for the second game in a row, moving Mario Mandzukic to the centre-forward role. Olympiakos fired Coach Besnik Hasi 48 hours before this match, bringing back Takis Lemonis for his fourth stint at the club.

In the opening minutes, Paulo Dybala controlled, juggled and turned on the edge of the box for a shot charged down when it was flying into the near bottom corner. At the other end, Alex Sandro’s poor pass was intercepted for a counter, which Seba blasted over.

Juve had a couple of promising free kicks, but Dybala fired them both into the wall. Bentancur earned a round of applause for tracking back with a clean tackle in midfield and Silvio Proto flapped a corner off the head of Blaise Matuidi.

Alex Sandro got back to intercept a Seba cross for Pardo’s header, but Juve had two chances in quick succession on 34 minutes. Juan Cuadrado’s cross found the head of Mandzukic, fingertipped over the bar by Proto. From the resulting corner, Stefano Sturaro’s header was acrobatically punched away.

Olympiakos were very dangerous on the counter, but Emmanuel Emenike tried to roll it across rather than go for goal himself and it was intercepted.

Mandzukic came closest, a powerful header beaten off the line by Proto, but Gigi Buffon had his first save on 41 minutes on a Pardo counter-attack and angled drive.

On the stroke of half-time there was a double Juve opportunity. First Proto flew to parry a Dybala first time strike from the edge of the box, then as the move continued Alex Sandro’s low cross from the left was accidentally deflected on to the upright by Bjorn Engels.

After the restart, a free kick touched on for Douglas Costa was drilled on to the wrong side of the net, but Olympiakos wasted another promising counter-attack with Seba firing over.

Higuain was introduced for Cuadrado and it was Mandzukic who should’ve scored moments later, but nodded Sturaro’s cross downwards and it bounced into Proto’s arms.

Instead, Buffon had to be at full stretch to fingertip away a Vadis Odjidja snapshot.

There was a sense of inevitability about the first goalscorer. Alex Sandro ran on to a Mandzukic flick and pulled back for Higuain, who had his first shot charged down from eight yards, but blasted in the rebound to give Juventus the lead and shake a huge weight off his shoulders.

Higuain was instrumental for the second goal too, as he threaded through to release Dybala, the dinked finish had beaten Proto, but Engels got back to clear off the line – and straight on to Mandzukic’s chest to bundle over from a yard. The Croatian has found the net in each of his last three Champions League appearances, as he was injured for the trip to Barcelona.

There was a nasty clash of heads in the final minute that left Giorgio Chiellini and Engels bleeding, but able to continue.

Juventus 2-0 Olympiakos

Higuain 69 (J), Mandzukic 80 (J)

Juventus: Buffon; Sturaro (Benatia 81), Barzagli, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Matuidi, Bentancur; Cuadrado (Higuain 60), Dybala, Douglas Costa (Bernardeschi 84); Mandzukic

Olympiakos: Proto; Figueiras, Engels, Nikolaou; Koutris, Zdjelar (Fortounis 77), Romao; Pardo (Ben Nabouhane 72), Odjidja, Sebá; Emenike

Ref: Stieler (GER)

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