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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 23 March, 2019


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Hello! And welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this evening’s Champions League group stage clash between Manchester United and Juventus.

It’s a massive game between two European titans at Old Trafford tonight. The Serie A champions currently sit top of Group H after wins against both Valencia and Young Boys, with the hosts two points behind in second spot.

Man United struggled the last time out in this competition — the side heavily frustrated during a 0-0 stalemate against Valencia at a time when Jose Mourinho’s job looked under severe threat.

Since then United have improved a decent amount. Mourinho’s men rallied from two goals down to secure a dramatic 3-2 victory against Newcastle, before earning a point against Chelsea this past weekend.

Mourinho took all the spotlight at Stamford Bridge following a confrontation with one of Maurizio Sarri’s coaches following Ross Barkley’s 96th minute equaliser. But tonight all the focus surrounds Cristiano Ronaldo.

Juventus Press Conference and Pitch Walkaround - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

The former Man United man returns to Old Trafford tonight for just the second time since joining Real Madrid for a record fee in 2009. Allegations of rape made against the Portuguese footballer by Kathryn Mayorga has led much of the build-up to tonight’s game.

The player denies all allegations made against him. Speaking during a press conference on Monday, Ronaldo said: “I am a happy man. We did the statement two weeks ago, if I’m not wrong. I am glad [about how it progresses]. Of course, I’m not going to lie in this situation, I’m very happy. My lawyers, they are confident and of course I am, too. The most important is I enjoy the football, I enjoy my life.”

Unbeaten after nine league games, Juventus sit top of Serie A with 25 points from a possible 27. Their only blip so far this campaign was a 1-1 draw at home to Genoa on Saturday evening — Daniel Bessa cancelling out Ronaldo’s opener.

The club have not been shy about their ambitions to win the Champions League for the first time since 1996. They made it all the way to the final against Real Madrid in 2016, but are hell-bent on bringing the famous trophy back to Turin for the first time in more than two decades.

Kick-off is coming up at 8.00pm.

Let’s get started with the team news…

So, today’s teams are:

Man United: de Gea, Young, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Mata, Matic, Pogba, Rashford, Lukaku, Martial.

Subs: Romero, Bailly, Darmian, Fred, Andreas, Herrera, Chong.

Juventus: Szczesny, Cancelo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Sandro, Pjanic, Bentancur, Cuadrado, Dybala, Matuidi, Ronaldo

Subs: Perin, De Sciglio, Benatia, Barzagli, Costa, Bernardeschi

Just like their last Champions League game at Old Trafford, Man United have had issues with their bus and have been delayed arriving to the ground. It turns out that, rather than sit in amongst the Manchester traffic, Jose Mourinho popped on a hoodie and actually walked instead. What a man.

Okay, with just under half an hour to go before we get underway at 8.00pm, how do we see tonight’s game going? Let us know below.

Poll Results:

Juventus win (166)
Man United win (110)
Draw (68)


“We played well, we played really well in the last match. We don’t have many other options and we believe that the way we played was really positive and that it’s the way we want to play today,” says Jose Mourinho as he names an unchanged team for the first time in 46 games.

Manchester United v Juventus - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Source: Barrington Coombs

On the threat of Cristiano Ronaldo up front for Juventus, the Man United boss says: “I don’t think we can stop him individually because his movement is huge. We need to do it in a collective way and if we manage to have the ball and be offensive and scare them too, then they will have less chances to allow Cristiano to play.”


A foul on Marcus Rashford by Miralem Pjanic gives Man United an early chance with a free kick in a promising position. Juan Mata gets ready to deliver a cross into the box… but a fan running onto the pitch interrupts. A host of stewards in brightly coloured jackets sprint onto the pitch, and the fan is removed. Jose Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri share a laugh about it all.


Following the brief interruption, Mata eventually swings a cross into the box from the free-kick. It doesn’t pose much threat though, as the ball is plucked from the air by former Arsenal man Wojciech Szczesny.


It’s a bright enough start for Man United here tonight. Luke Shaw draws a foul from Cancelo along the left flank, but once again the delivery from the free is easily dealt with. Marcus Rashford attempts to loft the ball into the penalty area, but it fails to travel any distance — hitting Miralem Pjanic and away.


A first real attack for the visitors now. Juan Cuadrado finds a bit of time and space just outside the box, and he delivers a dinked cross into the mixer. Paulo Dybala tries to steer a header towards goal to try and test David de Gea, but he jumped just slightly too early and his effort flies well wide of the target.

Italy: Juventus v BSC Young Boys - UEFA Champions League Group H Source: SIPA USA/PA Images


Paul Pogba draws a foul and succeeds in getting on the end of the resulting free-kick. The midfielder peels away from his marker and offers a looping, dangerous header. It looks for a split second like it might nestle into Wojciech Szczesny’s top corner, but the ball eventually falls back down to earth and into the Polish goalkeeper’s arms.


GOOOOOOOOOAL! Juventus storm into the lead at Old Trafford with 17 minutes on the clock. Paulo Dybala is the man who gets it — the Argentina striker has the easiest of tap-ins from close range following a Cristiano Ronaldo cross into the box. What a start for the visitors!

Juventus v Young Boys - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Juventus Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport


Man United had actually started much the brighter of the two teams. They had a host of half-chances from frees and seemed buoyed by the electric atmosphere inside Old Trafford this evening. Juventus always held firm at the back, and take the lead with their third shot of the night against the run of play. It’s already an uphill battle for Mourinho’s men.


Right-back Joao Cancelo has been very impressive so far tonight and the defender very nearly doubles the Italian’s advantage. The 24-year-old lines up a shot from distance, forcing David de Gea into a sublime, athletic save off his line.



The Serie A champions are looking very impressive now. They are ahead and in total control of possession too. Man United have players dotted inside their own half, and seem a little bit standoffish as they watch Blaise Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic and Rodrigo Bentancur string a host passes together — left to right and back across.


Dybala finds himself in a great position behind enemy lines. The goalscorer has oceans of space inside the box but the angle is tricky and he is forced to cross into the box towards Ronaldo. Chris Smalling picks up a good position, however, and hooks the ball to safety.

Manchester United v Juventus - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Source: Barrington Coombs


Marcus Rashford tries to find a way through, with the England forward dashing through on goal with a brilliant individual run. He fizzes in and out of challenges left and right, before the ball is eventually cleared for a corner. Juventus coming under a decent spell of pressure now, with the home crowd really getting behind United at the moment in search of an equaliser.


You have to say it really is a great atmosphere tonight. Many people say that Old Trafford has had a tendency to sometimes fall quite quiet during Premier League games in recent years, but tonight it’s the complete opposite. A real European occasion — the fans haven’t stopped singing all night.


Another attack for Man United. Anthony Martial takes possession on the left flank just outside the box — the French forward crosses but his pass is headed clear at the first hurdle by the head of Leonardo Bonucci.


Save! Two saves in quick succession from David de Gea sees the goalkeeper come to Man United’s rescue. The initial effort came via a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick which swivelled and swerved through the air. De Gea palmed that effort away, before being called into action immediately to push Blaise Matuidi’s rebound away from danger. Great goalkeeping.

Manchester United v Benfica - UEFA Champions League - Group A - Old Trafford Source: Mike Egerton


Dybala has been all action. The striker peels away again, before curling a decent strike narrowly wide of the post. He tried this effort on his left boot, opening up his body and trying to guide the ball into De Gea’s bottom corner. But the Juve number 10 just had his angles slightly off, with his shot bouncing the wrong side of the post.


Juventus head into the break a goal to the good. Max Allegri’s men have been so comfortable on the ball and — despite a decent start from Man United inside the opening 10 minutes — have dominated the game. Cristiano Ronaldo was instrumental in his side’s opening goal, with Paulo Dybala slotting home from close range to break the deadlock. The Serie A champions look like a European superpower and are playing like one too. A big second half for both sides coming up shortly.


An early attack against the run of pay for Man United as Anthony Martial bursts into the box. The winger is full of direct running tonight but when he tries to get a shot off, his effort is blocked down by a host of bodies clad in black and white stripes. There are a few shouts for a foul from the home supporters, with Giorgio Chiellini pulling out of Romelu Lukaku’s shirt, but Serbian referee Milorad Mazic waves play on.


Save! David de Gea pushes the ball over the bar and Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t sure how that didn’t go in. It’s yet another free-flowing attack from Juventus. The ball is swept across to Juan Cuadrado, who cuts it back to Ronaldo. The number 7 strikes towards the top corner first-time — but his powerful strike is countered by a quite stunning save from the Spanish goalkeeper. Incredible reflexes.

Manchester United v Juventus - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Source: PA Wire/PA Images


Footage of Jose Mourinho actually walking to the ground before tonight’s game after Man United’s bus was stuck in traffic. He’s a gas man.


Blaise Matuidi is shown a yellow card after sliding into Ashley Young. Both players were looking to get on the end of a Juan Mata pass into space, with the French midfielder’s challenge proving slightly mistimed as he collided into the wing-back.


It’s been a much-improved second half from Man United, it has to be said. Juventus have not been given much space to breath and are being faced by attack after attack. Just like against Newcastle and Chelsea, Mourinho’s men look a completely different team when they are a goal or two behind and need to actually chase the game. Fans will be asking why they can’t play this open and attack-minded style right from the beginning of games.

Britain Soccer Champions League Source: Dave Thompson


Now then, Allegri’s men are beginning to rally a little bit. Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala are getting on the ball a lot more in the final third and are a menacing presence with the ball at their feet inside the box. It’s a tough ask for any defender to keep the pair quiet, but Victor Lindeloef and Chris Smalling are doing a decent job at the moment as the Juventus pair struggle to get a shot at goal. 


Juventus have really dropped off in the second half. They looked like going from strength to strength just before half-time, but have sat back a good bit more over the past 20-25 minutes. Dybala and Ronaldo are doing a lot running, but there’s not that same purpose or direction to their game that dominated the opening half.


Save! Wojciech Szczesny keeps his clean sheet in-tact with a brilliant save to deny Paul Pogba. I say save, but the ball actually hit the post before bouncing off the back of the goalkeeper’s head and out for a corner. I guess that’s a save? It was a little bit like Croatia’s third goal against Ireland at Euro 2012, except that time the ball came off Shay Given’s head and ended up in the back of the net. The less said about Euro 2012 the better though.

Source: TheEuro2012Highlight/YouTube


Leonardo Bonucci with a careless touch almost on the halfway line. Marcus Rashford seizes on the mistake and gets ready to race clean through on goal. Bonucci is not a quick mover by any stretch, but the Italian does just enough to claw his way back to the ball and slide it away from danger. The centre back was playing with fire there, giving the ball away with no cover behind him whatsoever.


Giorgio Chiellini is shown a yellow card for time-wasting. He pleads his case but the referee knows his game and puts him in the book. Juventus trying to hold on now with less than eight minutes to go.

Britain Soccer Champions League Source: Dave Thompson


Another late Man United attack as Mourinho’s men throw everything forward in search of a late leveller here. Nemanja Matic wins a header inside the box following a Juan Mata free-kick, but the Serbian midfielder gets hardly anything behind it and the ball is gathered by Szczesny. Four minutes to go.


Leonardo Bonucci wanders forward as Juve stretch the play and try and take advantage of Man United committing so many men forward. The centre back fancies a pop at goal and blasts a decent effort a few inches over the crossbar. De Gea always had it covered and watched on as the strike glanced over his head and into the stand.


There will be three minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.


The game is slowly beginning to peter out now. Juventus holding firm at the back, led by the unflappable Chiellini and Bonucci in the centre of defence. They are letting nothing past them, and there’s just a few moments left to go.

Well, there we have it. It’s a home defeat for Manchester United in the Champions League against an impressive Juventus side who make it 11 wins from 12 games in all competitions this season. Max Allegri’s men were very impressive in the opening half and did look very much like a side who could go all the way to the final in Madrid next May. Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford and the forward was instrumental in setting up Paulo Dybaba’s winner from close range after 17 minutes. Jose Mourinho’s men were much-improved after the interval, but never really threatened to scupper Wojciech Szczesny’s clean sheet. That’s all from us for the night, thanks a million for joining us for the ride — you can read our full match report here.  Cya!

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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