PIRAEUS (GREECE), Dec 6: Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi scored in either half as Juventus sealed a berth in the Champions League knockout rounds on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Olympiakos in Piraeus.
Juventus players celebrate after their UEFA Champions League Group D match against Olympiakos.
Colombian international Cuadrado turned in Alex Sandro’s cross after 15 minutes with Italian Bernardeschi getting the second in the final minute as last year’s finalists advanced to the last 16 for the fourth straight year.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side needed to win to assure their berth even though a draw or even defeat would have been sufficient for the six-time defending Serie A champions depending on the other Group D result.
But Barcelona eased past Sporting Lisbon 2-0 to comfortably finish top on 14 points, with Juventus second on 11 followed by Sporting on seven and Olympiakos at the bottom with just one point.
“It was like a final, we needed the win so we wouldn’t have to wait for the result in Barcelona,” said Allegri. “But we need to improve and be more clinical finishing off.
“We got a lot wrong in the second half, so I was angry. Szczesny had a great save and we could’ve been 1-1 at the break,” the Juventus coach told Mediaset Premium.
Juve captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was out injured with Polish deputy Wojciech Szczesny proving a worthy replacement, producing some key saves as he made his Champions League debut for the Turin side.
Andrea Barzagli wore the captain’s armband with Argentine ace Gonzalo Higuain, who scored the winner in Friday’s 1-0 victory at Napoli, again playing after undergoing hand surgery last week.
Allegri started without several key players in addition to Buffon with Giorgio Chiellini and Benedikt Howedes injured, and Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic not fully fit.
Argentina striker Paulo Dybala had the first chance after seven minutes with a low shot into the corner that was stopped by Olympiakos keeper Silvio Proto.
But minutes later the Italian champions were ahead when a Blaise Matuidi long ball found Sandro who crossed over for Cuadrado to finish off in front of goal.
The Colombian almost added a second ten minutes later but Proto held while a Higuain effort was deflected wide. – AFP