Juventus beat Manchester United to extend their unbeaten run against English teams to nine. It was a match dominated by the visitors and another spectacular defensive display from the Italians. Juventus extend their lead at the top of the group as we reach the halfway stage.
Visitors’ Defensive Structure Withheld in an Open Game
Juventus Dominated Possession in the First Half
Paulo Dybala scored the first and only goal of the night after great movement from Cristiano Ronaldo, making a return to Old Trafford. He skipped past Luke Shaw and whipped the ball into the box. The ball deflected off Chris Smalling and fell into the path of Dybala. The Argentinian tapped the ball home to mark his 150th appearance with a goal. That’s 73 goals for the striker, an impressive tally.
Juventus continued to dominate possession throughout the first half. David De Gea was constantly being tested but equalled the quality of each shot with a save. The best of the saves came late on in the first half after a fantastic double save shortly after a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick. Once again, he saved United from being two or 3three goals down. He came to the rescue in the second half too, stopping a blistering shot by Ronaldo finding the back of the net.
Lindelof Shines as Martial Dwindles
Manchester United had a short spell of fluid attacking football 30 minutes into the game. Rashford had the best of the chances, twisting and turning past defenders, but was dispossessed before becoming a real threat.
It was a night to forget for Frenchman Anthony Martial, who lacked composure throughout the game. He was dispossessed multiple times and seemed in too much of a rush on the ball. Misplaced passes were his biggest problem which frustrated the supporters.
Despite many negatives going forwards, a positive for United tonight was the Swede Victor Lindelof. He reacted well to the speed and danger of the Juventus counter-attacks and saw off any danger. He showed his leadership skills throughout the game, dictating to his defensive teammates who to track and mark.
Manchester United’s best spell of the second half came shortly after the hour mark. The supporters found their voices once again as United pressed high up the pitch. They knocked on the door for about five minutes, but the famously high structured Italian defence withstood.
United Nearly Equalise Midway Through the Second Half
Pogba hit the post shortly afterward with a left foot swinger from 22 yards. It smashed the post and bounced off Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny. This was the sign that it wasn’t to be for Manchester United tonight. However, this spurred United to push forward and apply some pressure. Juventus stood strong, though, and resisted the pressure from the English side.
With Alexis Sanchez out through injury, Manchester United lacked the depth to try and change things up. Rashford was quiet throughout the first half and Romelu Lukaku failed to get out of first gear. The second half was more stretched and chances came for both teams. The best of the chances came to Manchester United in the second half and the attackers woke up, but the final deliveries let them down. This now means that Lukaku is eight games without a goal, his biggest drought since joining United.
What Next for Mourinho’s Men?
Set pieces were a real weakness for United tonight. Juventus were comfortable in stopping anything entering the box. The favourites to win the tournament will be happy with maximum points at this stage. United will take some comfort in sitting second in the table as Young Boys managed a draw against Valencia.