Juventus came away 0-1 victors in an entertaining match at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais that saw Gianluigi Buffon steal the show.
The Juventus captain denied Lyon a first goal, after the veteran keeper saved Alexandre Lacazette's penalty, and Buffon made a further two incredible saves in the second half to deny Nabil Fekir and Corentin Tolisso, to ensure the Old Lady secured the three points.
Mario Lemina was sent off after a second bookable offence 54 minutes in, however Lyon could not make the extra man count in the end.
Juan Cuadrado scored the only goal of the match, however it was a goal of the highest quality, as the winger on-loan from Chelsea danced past his man, before unleashing a thunderbolt into the corner of the net.
A battle in midfield
Juventus opened the game dominate in possession, weaving the ball around the midfield and trying to cause some mayhem in the Lyon half, but the hosts weathered the storm, and were able to find their feet in midfield.
Lyon were beginning to creep out of their shell, and their progression was imminent when Mouctar Diakhaby had the first clear chance of the half 16 minutes in. The Champions League debutant rose high a free-kick from the left wing, but his header flew inches wide of the post.
Antony Lopes was forced into making a great save on Gonzalo Higuain, when the former Napoli star was played in by an exquisite ball from Dani Alves that opened the Lyon defence, but Higuain’s strike from a tight angle was parried away by Lopes.
Lyon were finding their best chances were coming from set-pieces, as the resilient Juventus back five were making it difficult for the Lyon attack to find space to exploit in the Juventus half.
The game had turned from a battle of possession, to a literal battle as Lyon were beginning to grow frustrated with the Old Lady’s possession based football. Rafael was booked for a flying challenge on Paulo Dybala, and Lacazette and Tolisso were cautioned for careless challenges.
The tide turned on Juventus though, as the hosts were gifted a penalty after Leonardo Bonucci gave away a penalty for man-handling Diakhaby inside the penalty box whilst the Italian defender was marking for a corner.
Lacazette stepped up to the spot, and despite hitting the penalty with real pace, Buffon parried the Frenchman’s penalty away, and the resulting Lyon attack fizzled out.
Juventus’ best chance of the half, and the final action of the first half, came when Alves again teed up Higuain inside the box, Higuain headed the ball with power from some distance, almost catching Lopes off guard, but the Portuguese keeper reacted well, and flew through the air to get a strong hand on the ball.
The second half started with the flare and intensity the first half had ended on. Fekir should had out Lyon ahead just two minutes after the restart, after a quick Lyon counter-attack saw Lacazette, Fekir and Tolisso all charging down the middle, Fekir spun from his man and took aim, but his strike took a big deflection from Bonucci, and Buffon’s incredible improvised save at the last second tipped the ball over the bar.
Down to 10 men
The game had now reached it’s boiling point. Sergi Darder was lucky not to had seen red after the Spaniard kicked out at Miralem Pjanic in the back in retaliation to a previous foul, and a minute later, Juventus were down to 10 men after Mario Lemina was dismissed for a second yellow card after a strong challenge on Fekir.
Buffon had been Juventus’ best player of the night, and the 38-year-old keeper saved the Turin side again in the 71st minute when a free-kick whipped in from the right wing found the head of Tolisso, but his header was met by Buffon, who blocked the shot with his foot, and Diakhaby’s rebounded effort from yards out flew wide.
Cuadrado punishes Lyon
Despite the domination on display from Lyon since the sending off of Lemina, Juventus were the ones to break the deadlock with 15 minutes to go.
Substitute Cuadrado danced his way past Jeremy Morel on the left wing, and from an incredibly tight angle, the Colombian winger blasted the ball past Lopes into the top right corner with a sweetly hit strike, giving Juventus the lead.
No luck for Lyon
Lyon responded well though, the introduction of Rachid Ghezzal brought new life to the attack, as his pace and trickery allowed him to exploit the tired Juventus defence. Maxime Gonalons tested Buffon in the 85th minute, but like the attempts before that, the Italian keeper parried the shot away.
The hosts could had levelled the game up in the dying seconds of the match after Ghezzal let a golden chance go to waste when the Algerian pulled his shot wide from close range.