Champions League - Juventus beat Shakhtar to seal top spot

Champions League Group E, Donbass Arena - Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Juventus 1 (Kucher o.g. 56)

Juventus won 1-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk to seal top spot in Group E of the Champions League and consign Chelsea to the Europa League.

The result in Ukraine means Shakhtar finish on the same points as Chelsea, but join Juve in the round of 16 as they have a superior head-to-head record against the Premier League club.

An own goal proved the difference on the night as Olexandr Kucher haplessly put into his own net 10 minutes into the second half.

The first period started brightly, but turned into a bit of a non-event after the first 25 minutes. Juventus were the more proactive in the first half, even though it was they who had everything to lose.

Willian set the pulses racing early on as he skipped past Arturo Vidal and approached the penalty area, the Chilean cynically tugging him back.

The first chance of any real note though came after 22 minutes, as Andrea Pirlo whipped in a free-kick from wide of the penalty area. It evaded everyone until it struck Fernandinho on his outstretched arm on the edge of the six yard box. The referee said no penalty, but he really should have been pointing to the spot.

On the half hour, calamitous defending from Shakhtar led to Sebastian Giovinco putting a shot inches past the far post. A long ball was completely missed by Taras Stepanenko, then Kucher and Yaroslav Rakitskiy got in each other’s way allowing Mirko Vucinic to step in and play square to his strike partner.

The second half was a much brighter affair. There were four chances in 10 minutes, and the final one led to a goal. Rakitskiy hammered a shot from 25 yards that Gianluigi Buffon palmed away, Pirlo then hit the outside of the far post from the edge of the area after skipping past the defender, before Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck a shot narrowly wide of the far post.

On 55 minutes though the goal that would decide the group arrived. Stephan Lichsteiner combined with Vucinic and the Swiss, coming back from an offside position, whipped a deflected cross in, which bounced off the standing foot of Kucher as he tried to clear.

Buffon saw the ball strike the outside of his post as Kwadwo Asamoah stuck out a foot to almost gift the leveller back to the home side 10 minutes later.

With 20 minutes to go, Vucinic stepped round the onrushing Andriy Pyatov, but was at too tight an angle to shoot. That was the last real chance of the game as Shakhtar took hold of the ball, but failed to really trouble Juventus, who put in a formidable defensive performance.

The home side may have lost, but it did not feel like that in the stadium as both teams could reflect on what has been a very satisfying group stage, becoming the first sides to beat the holders of the cup into the second round.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Giorgio Chiellini – Juventus: As usual, a rock at the heart of the Juve defence. Kept Shakhtar chances to a minimum and was never afraid to put his body on the line.

TEAM RATINGS

SHAKHTAR: Pyatov 6, Kucher 5, Rat 7, Rakitskiy 7, Stepanenko 6, Fernandinho 6, Willian 6, Alex Teixeira 5, Srna 7, Eduardo 4, Mkhitaryan 6. Subs: Ilsinho 5, Devic 7.

JUVENTUS: Buffon 6, Chiellini 8, Bonucci 8, Lichtsteiner 7, Pogba 7, Pirlo 6, Asamoah 6, Vidal 6, Vucinic 6, Giovinco 7. Subs: Giaccherini, Matri.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS