Juve progress to KO stage; Atletico Madrid advance as group winner

BY foxsports • December 9, 2014

Juventus progressed to the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League as it drew 0-0 at home to already qualified Atletico Madrid, which goes through as group winner.

The Italians enjoyed the better chances of a largely uneventful Group A encounter with last year's finalists, with Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba both going close to scoring in the second half. The point kept Massimiliano Allegri's men out of the clutches of Olympiacos - 4-2 victors over Malmo in Greece - while reigning Primera Division champions Atletico were confirmed as group winners.

Veteran playmaker Andrea Pirlo, making his 101st appearance in the competition, announced himself to the visitors with an early free-kick that slammed into the wall. It was Juventus who endured the first real scare, though, as Leonardo Bonucci's mistake allowed Koke to cut inside and test Gianluigi Buffon with a powerful drive.

The wily Italy goalkeeper soon saved his side again by tipping Mario Mandzukic's close-range header over the crossbar. Juve bit back and got Atletico keeper Miguel Angel Moya working shortly after the half hour as Fernando Llorente got his head to Pogba's pinpoint cross.

The Spaniards dominated the minutes preceding half-time, with Mario Suarez and Raul Garcia both giving Buffon food for thought with accurate shots on the Juve goal. Shortly after play resumed Gabi tried to catch Buffon cold with an inswinging corner to his near post.

Juve wrested back control of the ball and, in the 57th minute, Vidal attempted to pick out the bottom corner with a fearsome effort that Moya just managed to tip wide. The Majorcan stopper was soon tumbling again as Pogba unleashed a rasper from 30 yards. The Atleti defence - looking increasingly frazzled - cleared the spilled ball to safety.

With Juve steadily increasing the pressure, Vidal was back on the hunt in the 74th minute and, after gathering Pirlo's pass, he pulled the trigger only to elicit a clean catch from Moya. Atletico, with their progression long-since secured, were simply happy to keep their hosts at arm's length.

Pogba would manage to fizz one last fierce shot wide of a post in the late stages, but Moya had been well placed to cover the danger regardless.

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