Manchester United vs Juventus. UEFA Champions League Group H.
Juventus edge closer to qualification after third group win in a row
Wednesday 24 October 2018 08:53, UK
Cristiano Ronaldo helped provide the winner on his return to Manchester United as Juventus cruised to a 1-0 Champions League win at Old Trafford.
Ronaldo had an immediate impact against his former club to silence the masses, firing a cross into the middle which eventually fell for Paulo Dybala to net his fifth goal of the season with just 17 minutes on the clock.
From then on in, it looked like there was only going to be one winner, as Juventus dominated possession and created the better openings, only to be kept at bay by David de Gea in the United goal. Paul Pogba did almost snatch an unlikely point for United late on against his former club, but his fierce strike came out off the post.
A first Champions League defeat of the season leaves United's hopes of winning Group H hanging by a thread with Juventus way out in front with three wins from three so far, but Valencia's draw at Young Boys earlier on Wednesday means United remain second, two points clear of Valencia in third.
Manchester United: De Gea (9), Young (7), Lindelof (7), Smalling (5), Shaw (5), Matic (6), Mata (4), Pogba (5), Rashford (4), Lukaku (3), Martial (4).
Juventus: Szczesny (6), Cancelo (8), Bonucci (7), Chiellini (7), Alex Sandro (8), Matuidi (6), Bentancur (8), Pjanic (6), Dybala (8), Cuadrado (6), Ronaldo (7).
Subs: Barzagli (6), Costa (N/A), Berardeschi (6)
Man of the match: Paulo Dybala.
United again arrived late to the stadium, with the players having only 50 minutes before kick-off to prepare, and the hosts looked well off the pace early on as Juventus dominated possession. Soon enough they had edged in front, with a familiar face coming back to haunt his former employer.
Ronaldo pulled wide to the right wing, fired a fierce low cross into the middle, Chris Smalling failed to clear at the near post and Dybala was on hand to stroke home the loose ball.
United just could not get a foothold in the game, and had De Gea to thank for preventing Juventus extending their lead - he made smart stops denying Joao Cancelo, Ronaldo and Blaise Matuidi. United offered very little as an attacking force, mustering just one shot at goal in the entire first half.
Jose Mourinho went with the same starting XI that impressed in the weekend draw at Chelsea. Anthony Martial played on the left of Romelu Lukaku, with Marcus Rashford on the opposite flank. Youngster Tahith Chong was on the bench for the first time. As expected, Cristiano Ronaldo started for Juventus, having served his ban for his red card against Valencia. Emre Can missed out, with an ankle injury keeping Mario Mandzukic out too. Just the two changes from their weekend draw with Genoa, with Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini coming in.
Juventus continued in the ascendancy in the second period, and again were denied by De Gea with the Spain international's reflex stop to deny Ronaldo from the edge of the box right out of the top drawer.
United started to commit more bodies forward, but they could not break down the resolute Serie A champions, who drew on all their experience to frustrate United.
Pogba's late effort came out of nowhere, and would have been harsh on Juventus. But luck was not on United's side as the Frenchman's drilled effort came out of the inside of the post, hit the back of Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and rolled wide.
United slipped to their fourth home defeat in their last 13 games at Old Trafford in all competitions - as many as in their previous 81 home matches.
It is no secret that Dybala possesses considerable ability, but when it really matters, against fellow European heavyweights, he often fails to produce the goods. At Old Trafford, however, the Argentina international was a menace, having more shots than anyone else on the pitch. He linked up brilliantly with Ronaldo and took his goal with the confidence of a man comfortable on the grandest of stages.
United are at home again on Sunday, as they take on Everton, live on Sky Sports. Juventus travel to Empoli on Saturday.