Morata Late Goal Seals Knockout Stage Place for Juventus

On a cold Tuesday night in Turin, Juventus hosted Hungarian champions Ferencvaros in Matchday 4 of the Champions League Group Stage, just 20 days after their initial encounter which saw the Italians win 4-1.

But this time around things weren’t easy as initially expected for the Old Lady, as they conceded an early shocking goal. Luckily for the Bianconeri, a Cristiano Ronaldo strike and a late Alvaro Morata winner saved them the blushes as they locked their spot in the second round of the competition.

Andrea Pirlo maintained the 4-4-2 formation, with Ronaldo starting in attack alongside the captain of the night, Paulo Dybala. In midfield, Weston McKennie took an unusual role as a right-wing, with Arthur and Rodrigo Bentancur in the double pivot. Danilo played as a makeshift center-back alongside Matthijs De Ligt, while Alex Sandro made his first start of the season at left-back.

The first half saw Juventus struggling to find spaces between the packed Ferencvaros lines. The 14th minute saw the first chance of the match, when Ronaldo received the ball while making a run from the left. The Portuguese star went to the byline before lifting the ball across the box, Dybala met it with a sliding volley, but Dénes Dibusz parried it away.

Few minutes later, the Hungarian minnows shocked the world when they managed to take a lead inside the Allianz stadium. Tokmac Nguen received a long ball in the middle, and Danilo slipped to the ground, leaving the visitors with enough space to create a dangerous run inside the Bianconeri box. Sandro slided to intercept the pass, but didn’t make enough contact on the ball as it reached the mouth of the goal, and Myrto Uzuni beat Cuadrado to it, putting the ball past the helpless Wojciech Szczęsny.

The home side tried to react but they were barely able to create a goalscoring chance. Arthur wasted a decent opportunity with a shot well wide off target, and a Ronaldo goal was disallowed for an obvious offside call.

But the 35th minute would witness a vintage CR7 goal. After receiving a simple pass from Cuadrado, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner dribbled past the defender and unleashed a low screamer to the near post that the Ferencvaros goalkeeper couldn’t stop, bringing Juventus back to the match.

The second half started slowly as well, as the home side waited until the 60th minute to create its first opportunity. A defensive clearance reached Federico Bernardeschi on the edge of the box. The Italian international controlled the ball with his chest and took his shot brilliantly, but it hit the far post.

After his introduction to the match, substitute Alvaro Morata put Ronaldo one-on-one with the keeper thanks to fabulous through ball between the Ferencvaros defenders. The Portuguese legend tried to round Dibusz who somehow managed to put a hand on the ball in the very last second.

Morata had his own 1v1 meeting with the Ferencvaros shot-stopper when Federico Chiesa freed him with a through ball, but the Spaniard had a narrow shooting angle, and his shot hit the post as Juventus kept struggling for a winner.

Just when the match seemed heading for a disappointing draw, the Italian champions found a winner in the second minute of extra-time, when Danilo’s long ball released Cuadrado on the right flank. The Colombian got his second assistant for the night when his cross was headed home by Morata. Dibusz thought he could save it, but the power took it through his legs.

Ferencvaros might feel unlucky for conceding a last-gasp goal like this one, but Andrea Pirlo will be relieved to avoid a negative result at this critical period, as Juventus guaranteed their qualification to the round of 16. 



November 24, 2020 – Champions League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORERS: 19′ Uzuni (F), 35′ Cristiano Ronaldo (J), 92′ Morata (J)

JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Szczesny; Cuadrado, Danilo, De Ligt, Alex Sandro; McKennie (62′ Kulusevski), Bentancur (83′ Rabiot), Arthur (83′ Ramsey), Bernardeschi (62′ Chiesa); Dybala (62′ Morata), Cristiano Ronaldo (Pinsoglio, Israel, Dragusin, Frabotta, Portanova) Coach: Pirlo
FERENCVAROS (3-4-3): Dibusz; Blazic, Frimpong, Dvali; Lovrencsics (75′ Botka), Sigér (75′ Laidouni), Somalia, Heister; Zubkov (70′ Isael), Uzuni, Nguen (70′ Boli) (Szécsi, Ori, Kharatin, Kovacevic, Mak, Baturina, Csontos) Coach: Pirlo

REFEREE: Siebert (Germany)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: ; Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 3′