LISBON – Juventus edged closer to the Champions League quarter-finals after second-half goals from substitutes Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves earned them a 2-0 away win at 10-man Porto in a one-sided last 16 first-leg tie on Wednesday.
Porto’s downfall was partly self-inflicted after left back Alex Telles received a red card in the 27th minute following two senseless bookings in the space of 90 seconds, leaving the home side to play over an hour against the Serie A leaders with 10 men.
Despite holding Juventus at bay for 72 minutes, Porto’s resolve was broken when Miguel Layún deflected Paulo Dybala’s pass into the path of Pjaca who slammed a first-time effort past Iker Casillas.
.@marko_pjaca20: “I’m over the moon. I’m delighted for the goal but even more for the result.” #FCPJuve #UCL #FinoAllaFine pic.twitter.com/XVXjzxGNfX
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) February 22, 2017
Dani Alves made sure of victory two minutes later when he controlled Alex Sandro’s cross with his chest before finishing calmly as Juventus, who are still in the Italian Cup, boosted their hopes of a maiden treble ahead of the second leg in Turin on March 14.
“We can be happy as it’s a really good result, but to be honest after the first-half red card, we had to win this game,” Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira told reporters.
“It’s absolutely not over,” he added. “We’re happy with tonight but in three weeks we’ll need to be careful as Porto are angry and have nothing to lose.”
Juventus were expected to face a stern test in Portugal, but while they imposed themselves from the early stages and controlled the first half, Porto were content to remain deep and absorb pressure.
The visitors struggled to forge the clear openings that their dominance deserved, although the lively Dybala fashioned the best chance of the first half with a thumping effort from outside the box which grazed the post.
Telles’s minute and a half of madness quashed any lingering Porto ambition and prompted coach Nuno Espirito Santo to withdraw striker André Silva — scorer of four Champions League goals this season — in response.
Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri left out Leonardo Bonucci from the squad, after the pair’s dispute during Friday’s victory over Palermo, and while Juventus were untested at the back, they missed the centre back’s creativity and probing long balls.
The breakthrough eventually came from the bench, as Allegri introduced Pjaca and Dani Alves to offer dynamism and directness and the pair repaid their manager with goals to end Porto’s 20-game undefeated home streak.