In a game between two European powerhouses, Juventus managed to be the more intelligent side and they held on to a 1-0 win over Manchester City.
Even though this result sent both teams into the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, the Serie A champions showed their credentials to be a title contender as the team was rock solid on defence, dominant in midfield and pretty dangerous in the final meters. A lone-goal from Mario Mandzukic was the difference maker in this game played at the Juventus Stadium.
Juventus shocks The Citizens with an early goal
The match started off pretty closed as neither side wanted to give an inch to the other in the middle of the pitch although Manchester City looked slightly better due to their passing. Juventus didn't pose much of a threat as Paul Pogba didn't appear and as such, Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala were fairly isolated on the attack. The first clear chance belonged to the Citizens when Fernandinho failed to convert from a promisiing position inside the box. They would regret that miss only one minute later.
In the very next attack, Pogba found Alex Sandro who sprinted through the left side of the pitch and sent a vicious cross into the box. Mandzukic was waiting inside and after winning the position against Nicolas Otamendi - albeit with a foul not called by Felix Brych - the Croatian international simply tapped the ball into the back of the net in front of a helpless Joe Hart to put the hosts ahead by one goal.
Manchester City reacted but they lacked quality in the final meters
Manuel Pellegrini's boys tried to react and they moved the lines forward as players like Jesus Navas and Kevin de Bruyne started to gain weight in the flow of the game, but they didn't have enough clarity to make an impact in the final meters so Sergio Aguero wasn't able to do too much. The only chance the Argentinean created occured after a defensive mistake and he wasn't able to shoot clearly because Gianluigi Buffon was quick to parry the ball away.
Juventus were the better team all round, and they were inches away from adding a second goal when a lobbed pass from Stephan Lichtsteiner found Mandzukic once again, but the former Bayern Munich starlet couldn't find the back of the net after a stunning save from Hart. The first half ended with a 1-0 lead for the Old Lady as they were clearly the better team at both ends of the pitch.
Intense start to the second half
Juventus carried the momentum of the first half into the second 45 minutes and they started dominating the midfield zone after the break but Manchester City didn't sit back - as a result the first 15 minutes of the second half were pretty intense. Claudio Marchisio tested Joe Hart with a long range effort that was comfortably stopped by the England international and on the counter, Fernando nodded the ball but Buffon saved the ball on the line when Yaya Toure was there to tap home the rebound.
A few minutes later, a through ball found Alvaro Morata - who had entered the game a few seconds earlier to replace an injured Mandzukic - between the centre backs and the Spaniard chipped the ball over Hart but it went slightly wide and his effort hit the post. Dybala was unable to tap it home from inside the six-yard box in what should've been Juventus' second score.
Juventus' tactical changes limited Manchester City's attacking options
Pellegrini tried to shake things up in the 60th minute with entrance of Fabien Delph to replace Fernandinho. The former Aston Villa player was supposed to give the team a more creative presence in the middle of the pitch but he struggled to settle in the final third so Aguero was forced to drop deeper in an attempt to get in touch with the ball. That was a recipe for disaster as the Argentina star got tired quickly and made most of his movements too far from the goal where he doesn't feel comfortable. Aguero's first chance came in the 67th minute but his shot was deflected by Giogio Chiellini and due to his lack of impact he was subbed off, making way to Raheem Sterling in the 69th minute.
Juventus, on the other hand, were almost perfect in terms of tactic as Massimo Allegri's team was a perfect machine on both sides of the ball, particularly in the second half where they decided to drop deeper in an attempt to protect their slim lead. With Morata and Dybala holding the forte on offense and Pogba operating as a trequartista, the rest of the players were focused solely on the defensive end so at times Juventus had a five-man defensive line and two central midfielder in front of them, making things quite difficult for the Citizens.
Open game towards the end but Juventus prevailed
The final minutes saw Manchester City looking unable to pose a threat on offense as the substitutions didn't have the expected impact. Juventus opted to play with a counter-attacking approach and in that regard Morata proved to be very important. The Spaniard was close to put the nail in the coffin in the 79th minute but Hart beat him on a one-on-one and in the next attack, Sterling was unable to tap the ball home following a dangerous cross from De Bruyne. Hart was injured on the play and had to be replaced by Willy Caballero so Manchester City played with their back-up goalkeeper in the final minutes.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado also entered the game for Juventus in the final minutes and the former Chelsea winger was inches away from adding a second goal but his effort went wide when Caballero appeared to be beaten.
Brych blew his whistle after four minutes of stoppage time and the hosts clinched a huge win at home against one of the toughest rivals in the group. With this result and Borussia Monchengladbach's win over Sevilla, however, both Juventus and Manchester City clinched a berth in the Round of 16 although the top spot will be decided in the next matchday.
Both teams will play their final match of the Group Stage looking to secure the top spot in the zone. Juventus will square against Sevilla in Spain while Manchester City will take on Monchengladbach at the Etihad Stadium.