Juventus advance to Champions quarters with win over Porto

Indo Asian News Service

Turin, March 15 (IANS) Paulo Dybala's first-half penalty was enough for Juventus as the Italian football champions shut out Portuguese club Porto 1-0 to complete a 3-0 win on aggregate in their Champions League pre-quarterfinal tie here.

The match at the Juventus Stadium on Tuesday was decided in the 42nd minute, when Porto's Maxi Pereira was sent off after receiving a straight red card for hand ball off a Gonzalo Higuain's goal-bound flick and Dybala coolly converted the penalty to put the hosts ahead 1-0, reports Efe.

The sequence was reminiscent of the first leg in Portugal, where Porto found themselves reduced to 10 men before the half-hour mark as Alex Telles picked up successive yellow cards in the space of three minutes.

The Turin giants had won 2-0 in Portugal in the first leg and in the second leg, visitors Porto had little hope of equalising against the record Italian champions, who extended their home unbeaten streak in European competitions to 21 matches.

Juventus, who are hoping to win their first Champions League title since 1996, got down to business from the start, pressurising veteran Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

The experienced Spanish keeper would eventually be called into action in the 23rd minute, staying low to block Mario Mandzukic's powerful header from a Juan Cuadrado cross.

Dybala, with his lively and creative movement, won a corner from which Mandzukic headed narrowly wide.

In another corner, Alex Sandro's header from the top of the box was thwarted brilliantly by Casillas. As the ball moved to the left, Higuain tried putting in but Maxi Pereira handled the Argentine's shot, leading to a penalty. Dybala fired the ball into Casillas' bottom left corner to make it 1-0 in the 42nd minute.

Three-nil down on aggregate and reduced to 10 men, Porto were left with a mountain to climb in the second half, but they almost hit back on 49 minutes when Francisco Soares shot wide of the mark when in a one-on-one with Juventus iconic goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Juventus, however, dominated Porto. In their push for the second goal, Marko Pjaca drove one wide on the right post before Higuain came even closer to finding the bottom corner with a right-footed shot in the 64th minute.

For Porto, Diogo Jota struck the side-netting with a lob which was the visiting side's final attempt at a goal, as Juventus had an easy night.

But Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri saw a lot of weaknesses in his side as he wants to improve further ahead of the crunch quarter-final.

"We must show the desire to improve the way we play, which is where we were found wanting tonight," Allegri told his club's website. "We'll face big teams and will require different performances. We played intelligently in the first half and the lads did well, whereas in the second period -- playing 11 against 10 -- we didn't move the ball quickly enough and we defended badly.

"We just had to choose an option and do it well. Either you attack or you manage the game, slow the tempo and conserve energy. Yet we did neither one nor the other. The more you try and force it, the less your football comes off."