By Ivan Carvalho at the Stadio Delle Alpi
A late Pavel Nedved goal gave Juventus FC a 1-0 victory against FC Bayern München and put the Italian side alone at the top of Group C with three wins from three matches.
While the first encounter between these two clubs in European competition was hotly anticipated, the German side never got themselves involved in the match, conceding a lot of space to Juventus players up front and eventually conceding the only goal with 15 minutes remaining.
Del Piero's return
Coming back from a month-long injury lay-off, Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero looked to make an immediate impact after two minutes but his pass aimed for striking partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic was easily intercepted by Bayern's Brazilian defender Lucio. The home side dominated the early stages and when Emerson seized on an errant pass in Bayern's penalty area Lucio again had to restore order.
Juventus should have opened their account when left-back Gianluca Zambrotta delivered a cross to Ibrahimovic in front of goal but the towering Swede headed high over the crossbar. Bayern continued to allow Juventus space to attack and defender Jonathan Zebina dribbled deep into opposition territory to provide Del Piero with a fine pass but the 29-year-old forward turned and shot weakly at goalkeeper Oliver Kahn's feet.
Bayern's opportunities were limited at the other end. Torsten Frings shot on goal but his attempt lacked pace and was collected easily by Gianluigi Buffon. It was, ironically, Buffon who gave the German side their best chance in the opening half. Bayern striker Roy Makaay should have done better with the goalkeeper's defensive error as Buffon lunged forward to handle an incoming cross but lost the ball, which Makaay fired directly at Zebina.
On the half-hour, Czech playmaker Pavel Nedved intercepted a pass in the box and looked for Ibrahimovic at the far post but Bayern's Hasan Salihamidzic did well to cover and snuff out the threat. Salihamidzic then won a corner at the other end but the ensuing kick was punched away cleanly by Buffon.
Juventus continued to apply pressure after the restart as Mauro Camoranesi battled for possession deep in the Bayern half and whipped in a cross intended for Nedved only to see the veteran Kahn clear. The 35-year-old goalkeeper had an escape a minute later as a mis-hit ball by Emerson somehow evaded Kahn who allowed the ball to fall virtually on the goalline but a charging Del Piero was unable to seize on the mistake.
Nedved slots home
With his team struggling to convert their chances in front of goal Juventus coach Fabio Capello opted to substitute Del Piero on the hour, bringing on Uruguayan forward Marcelo Zalayeta in his place. It was from a more trusted source, however, that the winning goal arrived on 75 minutes. Ibrahimovic found Nedved with a neat pass before the Czech scored with a left-footed diagonal effort that left Kahn helpless.
Awoken by Nedved's goal, the Munich side responded a minute later as Bastian Schweinsteiger found space and fired a blistering shot that Buffon did well to block with his hands. Iranian forward Vahid Hashemian was then introduced by Bayern coach Felix Magath in hopes of sparking life into the visitors' anaemic attack but besides a Michael Ballack header wide of goal the Germans never threatened. The sides meet again in Munich on 3 November and victory would take Juve through.