Juventus dominated Manchester United at Old Trafford, but ultimately a Paulo Dybala goal proved enough, while Paul Pogba hit the post.
The Bianconeri missed Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira, Emre Can and Leonardo Spinazzola, so rotated the forward players to keep opposition defenders guessing. It was a return to Old Trafford for Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 118 goals in 292 matches from 2003 to 2009. Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United were second in the group after a draw with Valencia, missing Marouane Fellaini, Alexis Sanchez, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Diogo Dalot, Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia and Scott McTominay.
The balance between these sides is absolute, with five wins each, two draws and 15 goals scored in their 12 previous meetings. There were 4,000 Juve fans in the Theatre of Dreams and they were making all the noise.
Juve held the initiative from the start and took the lead after 17 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo’s cross from the right found Juan Cuadrado, blocked off by Chris Smalling, but Dybala fired in the rebound from 10 yards. It was his fifth goal in his last four Champions League games.
Joao Cancelo stung David De Gea’s gloves from distance and the Bianconeri absolutely dominated, with 70 per cent possession in the first half-hour.
De Gea needed a double save on both Ronaldo’s free kick and the Blaise Matuidi follow-up, while Giorgio Chiellini and his old teammate Paul Pogba shared a high-five while marking each other on a corner.
Manchester United were a little more ambitious in the second half and Leonardo Bonucci got back for a decisive tackle on Anthony Martial, but De Gea still needed to soar in order to fingertip a Ronaldo screamer out from the near top corner after a delicate lay-off from Cuadrado.
Manchester United finally had a real chance on 75 minutes, as Pogba’s snapshot hit the base of the post, bounced off the back of Szczesny’s head and out again.
After the first half domination, Juve seemed confident to just control their 1-0 lead. In stoppages, Mourinho was waving three fingers at the Juventus fans – representing his Treble with Inter – and they responded with insulting chants.
Man Utd 0-1 Juventus
Dybala 17 (J)
Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Mata, Matic, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Martial
Juventus: Szczesny; Cancelo (Douglas Costa 87), Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro; Bentancur, Pjanic, Matuidi; Cuadrado (Barzagli 81), Dybala (Bernardeschi 78), Ronaldo
Ref: Mazic (SRB)