Juventus relaunch last-16 bid with Olympiakos win

Juve players

Juventus' midfielder Andrea Pirlo (C) celebrates with teammates afer scoring

Juventus' midfielder Andrea Pirlo (C) celebrates with teammates afer scoring
Juventus’ midfielder Andrea Pirlo (C) celebrates with teammates afer scoring

Juventus relaunched their Champions League last-16 bid with a nervous 3-2 win over Olympiakos in Turin on Tuesday when visiting goalkeeper Roberto saved a last-minute penalty from Chilean Arturo Vidal.

Andrea Pirlo, on his 100th Champions League appearance, broke the deadlock with a trademark free-kick on 21 minutes but the hosts were stunned three minutes later when central defender Alberto Botia beat Gianluigi Buffon with a glancing header from a corner.

Juve needed a win, preferably with a two-goal cushion, to boost their qualification chances ahead of an away trip to Swedish champions Malmo and their final fixture at home to Atletico Madrid.

But despite replying to Delvin N’Dinga’s glancing header on the hour with two goals in the space of a minute, Vidal spurned the chance to secure a 4-2 win when Roberto saved his penalty with the final kick of the game after Carlos Tevez had been felled in the box.

Juventus are now level on points with Olympiakos but second on a better head to head record, with both trailing leaders Atletico by three points.

“Unfortunately we missed the penalty but we’re up to second place,” Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Sport.

“I’m happy, it was a good performance and technically we played well. Now we have to look ahead to our next game at Malmo.”

Pogba, who hit Juve’s winner with his first Champions League goal on his 100th appearance with the Italian giants, said: “Today’s game was crucial for us. We had to win and we did, now it’s all up to us.

“Sometimes we get a bit complacent. You can’t mess about in the Champions League, not even a little bit.”

An injury to defender Angelo Ogbonna forced Allegri to reshuffle, replacing his tried and trusted 3-5-2 with a 4-3-1-2 formation that saw Alvaro Morata join Tevez up front.

Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah dropped back to the left and right-back positions while Pogba was left to play in the hole in front of Juve’s three-man midfield.

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With Olympiakos seemingly bent on defending in numbers and striking on the counter, Juve easily dominated the opening half but wasted a number of chances early on.

They finally broke the deadlock when Pirlo stepped up to curl a superb free-kick high inside Roberto’s post on 21 minutes after Pogba had fallen on the edge of the area under a challenge from Luka Milivojevic.

Juventus Stadium, however, was silenced three minutes later when Botia was left unmarked at a corner and got down low to head past Buffon.

Juventus should have restored their lead just before the interval but Claudio Marchisio could only glance at Asamoah’s probing delivery from the left as Morata and Vidal lurked in front of goal.

Fernando Llorente replaced Morata just before the hour but disaster struck for the hosts three minutes later when they failed to deal with Alejandro Dominguez’s probing free-kick from the left.

The ball was headed out but fired back towards the six-yard box by Olympiakos skipper Giannis Maniatis where N’Dinga beat Buffon with a glancing header.

Four minutes later, Juve were back on level terms, Llorente’s header ricocheting off Roberto then his post before bobbling over the line for an own-goal.

Juventus restored their lead in more convincing fashion just a minute later.

Pogba collected Llorente’s ball from the left and, after failing in his attempt to send Tevez through, he fired in a shot that beat Roberto down low.

Juve survived a scare when Omar Elabdellaoui squirmed past Asamoah and forced Buffon into a save at full stretch late on, but the hosts had the momentum and Tevez wasted the follow-up after Llorente’s close-range header was expertly blocked by Botia.

Roberto got down low to push away Tevez’s angled drive two minutes and then won a penalty in injury time, only for Roberto to block Vidal’s strike.

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