Juventus overhauled FC Shakhtar Donetsk at the top of UEFA Champions League Group E after a narrow victory in Ukraine.
Though a point would have been enough for the Serie A leaders to progress alongside their opponents, the Bianconeri showed their attacking intent as they dominated the first half. They continued to create chances after the break and finally got the goal they deserved on 56 minutes when Shakhtar centre-back Olexandr Kucher, under pressure from Sebastian Giovinco, turned Stephan Lichtsteiner's low cross past Andriy Pyatov.
The hosts had enjoyed a bright beginning, with the dangerous Willian providing a threat via his incisive running. However, it was clear from the outset that the Pitmen were missing the suspended Luiz Adriano, such a crucial component in Shakhtar's usually well-oiled attacking machine.
As the half wore on, Juventus grew in confidence and should have taken the lead on the 30-minute mark. An innocuous long ball out of defence caused Mircea Lucescu's side all sorts of problems. A slip by Taras Stepanenko put Mirko Vučinić through, he squared to Giovinco, but with plenty of time and the goal at his mercy, the forward shot wide of Pyatov's left-hand post. Juventus were in control, yet for all their pressure and good approach play, Pyatov was largely untroubled for the remainder of the period.
The game got off to an express start after the resumption as Lucescu sent on Marko Dević for Eduardo in attack. Indeed, Alex Teixeira, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Andrea Pirlo all had presentable opportunities to put their respective teams in front, though each failed to hit the target.
However, the deadlock was finally broken before the hour, as Lichtsteiner was put through on the right by Vučinić. The Swiss international's centre took a slight deflection and, with Giovinco lurking, Kucher diverted the ball into his own net. It capped a disappointing night for the defender, who was booked in the first half and will miss the first leg of Shakhtar's last-16 tie as a consequence.
With their grip on pole position slipping, the Ukrainian champions poured forward in search of an equaliser. They almost got it when Kwadwo Asamoah deflected Răzvan Raţ's testing delivery past Gianluigi Buffon and against the upright. That was as close as Shakhtar would come – their evening was summed up by Mkhitaryan's wild effort from distance with five minutes remaining. The only sour mark for Juventus was the late caution for Giorgio Chiellini which rules him out of their next UEFA match.
©UEFA.com 1998-2015. All rights reserved.