Juventus beats Olympiakos 2-0 to advance in Champions League
PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) Juventus advanced to the round of 16 in the Champions League on Tuesday, beating Olympiakos 2-0 on goals from Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi.
With Barcelona already through, the result saw the Greek team end its European run without a victory in Group D. Third-place Sporting Lisbon continues in the Europa League.
Cuadrado lunged forward to meet a cross from Alex Sandro and beat Olympiakos goalkeeper Silvio Proto in the 15th minute.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri left striker Mario Mandzukic on the bench as he recovered from a calf injury, but the Bianconeri looked comfortable in low gear. The hosts tired toward the end of the game at Karaiskakis stadium, leaving Bernardeschi with little to do for the second goal in the 90th minute.
”This was our first big target of the season, so I’m very happy with tonight’s result,” Cuadrado said. ”What’s important is that we continue to improve. It’s also important that we didn’t concede tonight, so we have to continue this way.”
As the lone Olympiakos striker, Uros Djurdjevic could have leveled with a header in the 41st but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny managed to get his left leg in the way.
Marko Marin replaced Seba at the break to give the hosts some pace, but Szczesny denied the German who threatened on the hour after Panagiotis Tachtsitidis slipped the ball past the Juventus defense.
With eight minutes remaining, substitute El Fardou Ben tried to grab a point for Olympiakos but his header hit the bar.
Juventus coach Allegri appeared relieved that his team was not punished for a lapse in concentration early in the second half.
”We could have concluded the game earlier,” Allegri said. ”In the second half, we played the first 20 minutes the wrong way. But in Europe, it’s never easy to win.”
Juventus players appeared relaxed for the encounter. Goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon received an award from the Greek club before the match, while striker Gonzalo Higuain posed with young members of Olympiakos’ staff to take selfies.
Olympiakos defender Leonardo Koutris said his team’s effort was not enough to threaten Juventus’ dominance, as the Greek champion finished with just one point from six matches.
”Juventus is a very powerful team. There’s such a small margin of opportunity against teams like that,” Koutris said, as home fans continued to sing in support after the game.
”What we wanted was to go out in front of our supporters with our heads held high.”
Group winner Barcelona beat Sporting Lisbon 2-0.
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