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Juventus 1-0 Sporting: Gatti gives Bianconeri narrow advantage
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Joshua Challies
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Federico Gatti scored against Sporting CP
Federico Gatti scored against Sporting CP

Federico Gatti's first Juventus goal gave the Bianconeri a 1-0 victory against Sporting in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.

A hard-fought encounter at the Allianz Stadium looked set to finish goalless until the 73rd-minute winner, with both sides struggling to create clear-cut opportunities.

The most notable incident to that point had been Wojciech Szczesny's departure due to chest pains, although Juventus soon confirmed their goalkeeper was "doing well".

Gatti poked home from close range to secure a narrow first-leg lead, even if Mattia Perin, on for Szczesny, was required to make a vital last-gasp double-save to preserve that advantage.

Juventus saw most of the ball in the early exchanges, with their best chance coming when Federico Chiesa cut onto his right foot just inside the box and aimed a curling effort on goal, drawing a diving save from Antonio Adan.

Sporting grew into the game as the first half progressed, though, as Sebastian Coates forced a stop from Szczesny, who was then required to keep Pote at bay.

With Szczesny replaced, Perin was first tested shortly after the restart when Trincao unleashed a long-distance effort that was palmed away.

Juve sought to respond to an increasingly frustrated home crowd but had to wait until the 73rd minute to make their pressure count.

Dusan Vlahovic beat Adan to Angel Di Maria's cross, only to see his header cleared off the line but Gatti was on hand to net his first Bianconeri goal.

It would have been only enough for a share of the spoils if not for Perin's heroics in added time, however, as he denied both Pote and Hector Bellerin from close range in quick succession.

What does it mean? Juve hold firm again

In managing to keep Sporting at bay, Juventus have now won their last four matches in Europe while keeping clean sheets — the first time they have enjoyed such a streak since the 2016-17 season, in which the Bianconeri finished as runners-up in the Champions League.

There will, however, be some frustration about the manner of the performance and the task is certainly far from complete, with Sporting likely to be a much sterner test on their own patch next week.

Di Maria shines

It was Di Maria's cross that ultimately led to the decisive goal and he was a thorn in the side of Sporting throughout.

He alone created three chances, as many as the rest of his team-mates combined.

Pote rues missed chances

Pote may well be left wondering what he had to do to score, particularly after Perin's fine save in the final moments.

The forward led this game in shots (four), shots on target (three) and xG, with his 1.06 expected goals topping Juve's combined total of 0.77.

What's next?

Juventus travel to face Sassuolo on Sunday ahead of the second leg, while Sporting host Arouca on the same day.


Europa LeagueJuventusSporting CP
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