Valencia - Juventus match report:
Valencia and Juventus first ever meeting in Europe will mainly remembered for Cristiano Ronaldo’s first ever sending off in the Champions League.
With the visitors clearly on top and having created several chances, Ronaldo was sent off in the 29th minute for grabbing the hair of Murillo while the Valencian defender was on the ground.
The Portuguese’s tearful departure took the sting out of Juventus’ attack, until the 43rd minute when they rattled the crossbar. Parejo put up a dangerous high leg to challenge for the deflected ball and was penalized inside the box. Pjanic took the resultant penalty and snuck it past Neto into the bottom right-hand corner. And the first half finished 1-0 to the visitors.
It wasn’t long before Pjanic was stepping up for another spot kick. With less than five minutes played in the second half, Batshuayi was flagged for an off-the-ball tussle with Bonucci inside the box as a corner ball was sailing in, which left both players on the ground. Pjanic again hit the ball low, hard and to the right, and again it found the back of the net.
For the next 40 minutes, Valencia threw everything at the visitors and dominated possession deep in Juventus’ half. But the fact that four of their best chances were long-range efforts from Soler said it all about Juve's organised defence. Valencia were awarded a penalty in the 95th minute, but Szczesny saved Parejo’s weak effort to keep the scoreboard at 0-2, which really summed up a very poor Valencia performance against ten-man Juventus.
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Valencia and Juventus meet for the first ever time in European competition, as the two sides get their Champions League campaigns underway in Group H at the Mestalla stadium.
Juventus travel to Valencia having won their first four Serie A games to leave them top of the table. Cristiano Ronaldo, who finally broke his goal drought with two against Sassuolo last Sunday, returns to Spain to play a club against whom he scored 16 LaLiga goals during his time at Real Madrid.
Massimiliano Allegri’s men will be eager to get their Champions League campaign off on a winning foot as they look to reach their third final in five years, but Juve coach knows they will have his work cut in front of the Mestalla faithful.
“Playing Valencia is not easy,” said Allegri. “They are a difficult team in a stadium that urges them on. It’s a game that will define our path in the Champions League. If we win, everything become easier, but if we lose, it puts us on an uphill battle.”
Valencia have had a very contrasting start to Juventus in their league campaign in Spain, having drawn three and lost won. After finishing fourth in LaLiga last year, they currently lie in 17th place and will hope the vocal home crowd will help them to their first victory in a competitve fixture this season. Centre-backs Gabriel and Diakhaby will be tasked with keeping Juventus’ potent strike force of Ronaldo and Mandzukic at bay, while up front Batshuayi and Rodrigo will look to test Szczesny in goal.
Knowing this is a game they will likely have to win to have a decent chance of reaching the last 16, coach Marcelino seems prepared to attack and find wholes in a Juventus defensive line that did concede two goals against last-placed Chievo in their opening Serie A game.
“It’s not going to be easy to attack because of their capacity to regroup quickly,” said Valencia coach Marcelino. “But we have to attack, without attacking we’re not going to win. We’ll try to pressure them and attack quickly.”