Juve wins, advances to last 16 of Champions League
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP)
Juventus advanced to the knockout stages of the Champions League by winning 1-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk to clinch top spot in Group E on Wednesday.
The Italian champion only had to avoid defeat to progress, and an own goal by Shakhtar defender Olexander Kucher from Juventus right back Stephan Lichtsteiner's low cross in the 56th minute made sure of qualification.
The result meant Chelsea became the first defending champion to exit at the group stage despite thrashing Nordsjaelland 6-1.
Juventus finished with 12 points, two more than Shakhtar and Chelsea. The Ukrainian club went through due to a better head-to-head record. The Blues were demoted to the Europa League.
''Our goal was achieved - we advanced to the next stage,'' Juventus coach Antonio Conte said. ''We look at the next games with optimism given our success in the group stage against Chelsea and Shakhtar, so we look at the upcoming games with calmness.''
A draw seemed unlikely from the kickoff as both sides poured men forward, often with spells of possession that lasted several minutes in each other's half.
Shakhtar looked brighter but, as the first half progressed, Juventus grew into the game and started to find more space in attack. Juventus camped in Shakhtar's territory for about five minutes at one stage.
Juventus' first sight of goal came in the 10th minute when Mirko Vucinic received a pass and volleyed over. In the 29th, Juventus forward Sebastian Giovinco missed from the top of the box with only goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov to beat.
Yet Shakhtar found it difficult to penetrate Juventus' back three, with the Italian side making numerous interceptions.
Shakhtar showed determination. In the first half, Fernandinho slid a smart pass onto the right wing for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but his touch was too heavy.
Shakhtar's best chance came early in the second but goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was making his 100th appearance at European level, blocked Yaroslav Rakitskiy's free kick in the 49th. The rebound was missed by Alex Teixeira, while teammate and substitute Ilsinho hit the post in the 67th.
''The game ended with the result dictated by the team that wanted to win more,'' Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said. ''Juventus wanted the win more than we did, and they did it. I tried to motivate my players as much as possible.
''I tried, but the outcome was what it was. It was an even game but Juventus was more aggressive. This was the last group game and we are satisfied with the overall result.''