Porto - Croatian starlet Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves came off
the bench to strike late as Juventus overcame 10-man Porto 2-0 in their
Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.
Porto hosted Juventus, the beaten 2015 finalists, looking
for their first win in four meetings between the sides - and confident in their
chances after a recent six-game winning run.
But the hosts endured a disastrous opening half at the
Estadio do Dragao, former Inter Milan midfielder Alex Telles sent off for a
second bookable offence in the 27th minute.
After seeing both Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala come
close, Higuain notably denied on 39 minutes by an alert Iker Casillas,
Massimiliano Allegri replaced Juan Cuadrado with Pjaca on 67 minutes.
The 21-year-old capitalised only six minutes later, starting
a great move before firing past Casillas from 15 yards out.
Allegri replaced right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner with Alves
immediately afterwards and the former Barcelona star scored with practically
his first touch of the game to wrap up a precious win for the Turin giants.
"This team still has plenty of room for improvement but
the lads showed great maturity tonight," said Allegri.
"We're entering a crucial period of the season and we
need to approach it with enthusiasm, determination and be as clinical as
"But we can't believe 2-0 is enough to see us through.
We have to broach the return as if it's still nil-nil."
Deploying an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation designed to
squeeze goals out of Higuain, Juve were forced to defend deep as Porto took
control in the opening stages.
But early promise failed to threaten Gianluigi Buffon in the
Juve goal, Yacine Brahimi's free kick curling over after Giorgio Chiellini, who
passed a late fitness test with fellow defender Andrea Barzagli, fouled striker
Juve eventually settled and Higuain looked on his way to
breaking the deadlock on 18 minutes until Marcano slid in to dispossess the
Argentine yards from goal.
When Miralem Pjanic fired an enticing ball into the area for
Mandzukic, Casillas was out quickly to sweep the ball away with his feet.
Juventus were gaining momentum but Dybala fired a great
chance over Casillas's crossbar after Sami Khedira's smart overhead flick.
Telles earned his first caution on 25 minutes for a foul on
Cuadrado and saw red barely two minutes later for a foul on Lichtsteiner.
"With 10 players it's always more difficult and
although it's complicated for us, it's not over," said Santo.
Santo replaced Silva with Miguel Layun three minutes later
but it took a superb reflex save from Casillas to stop Higuain's deflected
effort from squeezing in at the base of the post on 39 minutes.
Casillas was beaten on the stroke of half-time but Dybala's
shot from the edge of the area came off the base of the 'keeper's upright.
The players left the pitch at half-time to a chorus of
whistles, although they were aimed mostly at German referee Felix Brych after a
controversial opening period capped by Maxi Pereira being cautioned for a foul
A reminder that Porto had no intention of sitting back to
defend came just three minutes after the restart, Hector Herrera heading
Layun's great cross to the back post into Buffon's side-netting.
Porto remained resolute, but eventually buckled under Juve's
Khedira came close after pouncing on a poor headed clearance
by Ruben Neves and then Higuain bamboozled his two markers before unleashing a
right-footed drive that curled just wide of Casillas's far post.
Allegri was looking increasingly frustrated and replaced the
ineffective Cuadrado with Pjaca on 67 minutes.
The Croat seized the day minutes later, winning possession
from a Marcano blunder inside the area to beat Casillas with his maiden
Alves capped a forgettable night for the hosts when he
chested down Alex Sandro's delivery to fire off an angled shot that beat
Casillas at his far post on 74 minutes.