Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Juve through after penalty, red card end Porto hopes

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2017-03-15 12:13:31 BdST

bdnews24

Juventus coasted into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Porto on Tuesday after a first-half penalty and red card ended the Portuguese side's lingering hopes of a comeback.

Paulo Dybala converted the penalty three minutes before the break to complete a 3-0 aggregate win for the Serie A side after Porto defender Maximiliano Pereira blocked Gonzalo Higuain's goalbound shot with his arm and was sent off.

The defeat put a dampener an historic evening for Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas who made a record 175th appearance in European competition, overhauling Paulo Maldini's total.

The Italians never looked like relinquishing their 2-0 lead from the first leg of the last 16 tie in Portugal three weeks ago when Porto also played the second half with 10 men after Alex Telles was dismissed for two bookable offences.

"There will always be a doubt as to whether it would have been different with eleven players," said Porto coach Nuno Espirito Santo. "It's not right for a team to be penalised twice, first with a penalty and then a red card."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was not entirely satisfied. "We need to improve the quality of our football which in the second half left a lot to be desired," he said. "The result isn’t everything.”

Porto, backed by a noisy contingent of fans who kept singing until the final whistle, had some early pressure without seriously testing Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Hopes ended

Juve attacked in fits and starts and Mario Mandzukic had their first real effort with a powerful downward header which Casillas did well to hold.

Porto's hopes of becoming the first team to claw back a 2-0 deficit away from home in a Champions League knockout stage tie ended at a Juventus corner.

Former Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Casillas made a reflex save from Mandzukic's close-range header but the ball rebounded straight to Higuain whose shot was on target.

Pereira leapt in the way but the ball struck his out-stretched arm, the Uruguayan defender was sent off and Dybala confidently dispatched the penalty.

Porto had their best chance early in the second half when Francisco Soares broke down the left and outmuscled Mehdi Benatia but the Brazilian, who has scored 10 goals in his last seven league games, shot wide with only Buffon to beat.

The rest of the game was like a training session for Juve although Diogo Jota had another chance for the visitors when he broke away late on but shot into the side-netting.