Mandzukic fires Juve into last 16 with City win
A first-half strike from Mario Mandzukic saw last season’s beaten finalists Juventus into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over injury-hit Manchester City.
City, already qualified following their 3-1 win at Sevilla last time out, travelled to Turin looking to secure top spot in Group D as well as avenge their 2-1 defeat to the Bianconeri at the Etihad Stadium in September.
But a second successive defeat to the Italian champions means City now look likely to finish second behind Juve in the group. Juventus are now two points clear before facing Sevilla away next month, when City host Borussia Moenchengladbach.
“Hats off to the lads, they’ve gifted me qualification with a game to spare,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“It wasn’t an easy group. Borussia (Moenchengladbach) had a fantastic last season and Manchester are a technical side with top players.
“It’s never easy to win a Champions League game. We’ve done that, again, while not conceding a goal at home. We’re proud of that statistic so the lads deserve all the credit they get.”
City manager Manuel Pellegrini complained his defender Nicolas Otamendi was fouled by Mandzukic before the Croatian scored, and, despite Juve missing a host of chances, the Chilean felt the visitors were unlucky.
“I think we were unlucky to lose,” said Pellegrini.
“They scored a goal which I think was a foul before Mandzukic finished but the referee didn’t blow the whistle.But we had chances and didn’t score.”
Pellegrini said beating Juventus on their own turf would also be a gauge of his side’s Champions League-winning potential, but it quickly became clear their current injury woes would play to Juve’s advantage.
City forwards Wilfried Bony, David Silva and Samir Nasri are all still sidelined but the absence of Belgian centre-back and captain Vincent Kompany was most felt as Juventus went two points clear of City ahead of the sides’ final games next month.