By 90Min
November 27, 2018

Juventus progressed to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, thanks to a laboured 1-0 win at home to Valencia. 

Mario Mandzukic netted the game's only goal midway through the second half to ensure that the Bianconeri will feature in the draw for the knockout stages.

Juventus v Valencia - UEFA Champions League Group H

After a dull first half, the game burst into life on the hour, when some fine individual work from Cristiano Ronaldo saw him break free down the left flank, before fizzing in a low cross that allowed Mario Mandzukic the simplest of tap-ins.

The game's opening exchanges saw regular changes of possession, resulting in a scarcity of clear-cut chances in what was a fruitless first half.

Juventus felt they should have a penalty after 25 minutes when Miralem Pjanic went to ground, but the claims were waved away by Scottish referee Willie Collum. 

MARCO BERTORELLO/GettyImages

Juventus' players looked uncharacteristically out of sync in the first half, posing no real attacking threat as the first 45 minutes saw only one shot on target for either side.

The Bianconeri seemed content to control possession, knowing they only needed a point to progress to the knockout stages. 

The best chance of the opening period came in added time, when Valencia defender Mouctar Diakhaby's powerful header led to a wonderful reaction save from former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. 

MARCO BERTORELLO/GettyImages

The second half was played at a higher tempo by both sides, with Mandzukic's goal seeing the game to burst into life.

Valencia thought they had equalised moments after going behind, but their reply was ruled out after Diakhaby was correctly adjudged to have diverted the ball into the net with his arm. 

Juve had chances to double their lead with Paulo Dybala's curling left-footed strike being tipped over the bar before Ronaldo's leaping header required a sprawling save from Neto. 

In the end, one goal proved to be enough for the hosts to secure a scrappy victory. 

MARCO BERTORELLO/GettyImages

Check out our breakdown of the game below.


JUVENTUS


Key Talking Point 

A loss for Valencia means that they are eliminated from Europe's premier club competition after Manchester United's late winner. The Spanish side's chances of European silverware now lie in the Europa League, with Arsenal or Chelsea potential opponents in latter rounds. 

Juventus, requiring only a point to progress, gave a masterclass in game management. They were organised and efficient in possession throughout what was, frankly, a rather tepid encounter. 

MIGUEL MEDINA/GettyImages

In contrast to their collapse against Manchester United, Juve were led admirably by the experienced centre-back pairing of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. 

The veteran Italian duo will hope to inspire the Old Lady to their first European title since 1996 after losing two finals in the last four years.


Player Ratings


Starting XI: Szczesny (7); Alex Sandro (5), Bonucci (7), Chiellini (7), Joao Cancelo (7); Matuidi (8), Pjanic (7), Bentancur (7); Ronaldo (8), Mandzukic (9*), Dybala (6). 


Substitutes: Cuadrado (7), Douglas Costa (6).


STAR MAN 


Goals win games, and Masimilliano Allegri's side know they will have Mario Mandzukic to thank.

MARCO BERTORELLO/GettyImages

It was a pedestrian encounter that lacked quality for large periods, but Juventus will not care one bit, as they did what was needed to secure their progress from Group H to the knockout stages of the Champions League. 


WORST PLAYER

Alex Sandro was substituted at half time for Juan Cuadrado, and it was not a night to remember for the Brazilian. 

Pier Marco Tacca/GettyImages

An uninspiring scoreline does not reflect the tireless work of Juventus' midfield trio as they managed to keep Valencia at arm's length for the majority of the game. 

This result also ensures that the defeat Juventus suffered at the hands Manchester United is the only blemish on what has been an otherwise stellar season so far for the Italian giants. 


Looking Ahead 


After progressing to the knockout stages thanks to a 1-0 win, Juventus' focus returns to Serie A.

Juve will look to extend their eight point lead at the top of the table as they travel to Fiorentina on Saturday, with kick-off at 17:00 GMT. 

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