Manchester United staged a proper Italian job against Juventus on Wednesday night as the Reds claimed another dramatic victory in Turin thanks to a brilliant late strike from substitute Juan Mata and an own goal from Leonardo Bonucci. (Scroll down to Watch Video of Goals and Match Highlights)
Juve may have dominated the possession and chance count across the 90 minutes, but Jose Mourinho’s men showed incredible spirit and resilience to turn the game on its head, following a stunning strike from former Red Cristiano Ronaldo, and seal another memorable win on Italian soil.
Mourinho made just two changes from the side which won in dramatic fashion at Bournemouth on Saturday with Ander Herrera replacing Fred in midfield, and Jesse Lingard, making his first start since September, coming in for Mata. The England international sat in the no.10 position behind Alexis Sanchez and started brightly for the Reds, who saw plenty of the ball early on.
At the other end, Ronaldo was in lively mood and saw a couple of efforts blocked well by Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling during the opening exchanges.
United had some little spells of play thereafter but were unable to fashion any real clear-cut opportunities. A dinked Nemanja Matic pass to Alexis, who was just unable to connect with it at full stretch, was the main highlight.
Juventus began to dominate as the half drew to a close. On 34 minutes, Juan Cuadrado saw his deflected cross brilliantly palmed away by birthday boy David De Gea. The Spaniard then breathed a sigh of relief when the unmarked Sami Khedira rolled a low effort onto the outside of his far post after a cut-back from Ronaldo.
Wojciech Szczesny’s first real piece of action came on the stroke of half-time when Paul Pogba curled a low shot towards goal, but it wasn’t enough to unduly trouble to the Juve stopper.
Pogba was involved in United’s best move of the game four minutes after the restart as he flicked the ball into Luke Shaw, who controlled it well and let it run into the path of Martial, but he couldn’t keep his curling effort on target.
Seconds later, Paulo Dybala smashed an effort off the top of De Gea’s crossbar after being allowed to turn and shoot just inside the box.
That seemed to spark United into upping the tempo in attack, but despite a couple of corners and some pressure on the Juve defence, it was the hosts who made the breakthrough on 65 minutes.
Bonucci’s ball over the top fell straight onto the boot of Ronaldo who volleyed home emphatically. The former United man nearly set up a second soon after when he laid a pass off to Miralem Pjanic, but De Gea saved superbly.
Juve were started to take full control, but thankfully the scoreline didn’t increase for the home side as Pjanic fired wide and Cuadrado blasted over.
Mourinho made a double change 11 minutes from the end, with Marouane Fellain and Mata both entering the fray. And,seven minutes later, Mata, just as he did against Newcastle, fired home a quite superb free-kick from 20 yards. That looked to have claimed a vital point for the Reds until Ashley Young curled a dangerous free-kick towards the back post in the final seconds of regular time and, unbelievably, it bounced in off a combination of Alex Sandro and Bonucci and over the line.
Marcus Rashford would even have added a third on the break, but for Szczesny’s desperate save as the home crowd could barely believe the late turnaround. The final whistle sparked memories of ’99 when the Reds so famously came from behind to win on the way to the Treble. It may still be early in the Champions League this time, but this result sees the Reds march on, and how.
Juventus: Szczesny, De Sciglio (Barzagli 83), Bonucci, Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Khedira (Matuidi 61), Pjanic, Bentancur, Cuadrado, Dybala, Ronaldo.
Subs not used: Perin, Benatia, Mandžukić, João Cancelo, Rugani.
Scorer: Ronaldo 65
United: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Matic, Herrera (Fellaini 79), Pogba, Lingard (Rashford 70), Alexis (Mata 79), Martial.
Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Darmian, Fred.
Booked: Matic, Herrera, Martial
Scorers: Mata 86, Bonucci og 89
Watch Video of Goals and Highlights