Match Report: Juventus 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen

Cristiano Ronaldo added yet another record to his footballing resume to inspire Juventus to a comfortable 3-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen at the Allianz Stadium.

Juventus recorded their first win in the Champions League this season and moved top of Group D ahead of Atletico Madrid on goal difference.

Gonzalo Higuain broke the deadlock with an emphatic finish from outside the penalty area on 17 minutes. The Argentinian later turned provider to assist Federico Bernardeschi for his second goal of the season on the hour-mark.

Ronaldo had endured a frustrating evening from an individual perspective, but he scored his first European goal of the season to complete a routine win for the hosts.

The Portuguese international also scored against his 33rd opponent in the Champions League to equal the record set by former Real Madrid forward Raul.

Juve Edge Cagey First Half

Juventus headed into the half-time interval with a narrow lead courtesy of a 17th-minute strike from Gonzalo Higuain.

Bayer Leverkusen started on the front foot by suffocating Juventus when they had possession. This stifled the Italians’ attacking build-up play and also forced them to play very deep inside their own half.

However, the Bundesliga outfit persistently attempted to build from the back and Juventus exposed them with an effective counter-press. Hradecky soon began to look nervous in possession and Jonathan Tah was eventually forced into a mistake which led to the opening goal.

The hosts therefore grew in confidence and Miralem Pjanic started to dictate play in the heart of midfield while Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira covered limitless ground.

Juan Cuadrado launched a speculative ball to the edge of the penalty area and Tah lacked authority when attempting to head clear. He turned his back on the ball and his clearance dropped invitingly for Higuain to slam an unerring finish into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Kevin Volland and Kai Havertz looked the two most dangerous players for the visitors, but their propensity to overcomplicate play in midfield enabled Juventus to defend comfortably.

Higuain could’ve added a second before the break had it not been for an impressive save from Hredecky. Ronaldo burst into life, after a rather ineffective performance, to clip a pass into Khedira. The German lunged desperately to release Higuain, but his thumping effort from the edge of the box was emphatically beaten away by the Finish goalkeeper.┬áDie Werkself failed to learn from their mistakes and continued to persist with their build-up play from the back. Fortunately, Juventus failed to capitalize on their tentative approach.

Another Record, Another Day in the Life of Cristiano

Juventus took the game to Bayer Leverkusen at the beginning of the second half. Ronaldo improved significantly, Higuain enjoyed perhaps his best performance of the season and Bernardeschi was a persistent threat.

Bernardeschi squandered a chance just outside the penalty area by blazing over the crossbar and Ronaldo was thwarted from close-range by Hradecky.

The hosts had fired a number of warning signs and they eventually punished Bayer on the hour-mark. Higuain combined with Ronaldo on the edge of the penalty area and raced to the by-line. He attempted to find Ronaldo at the near post, but his low cross evaded him and found Bernardeschi who remained composed to bury his finish low into the net.

Hradecky naively attempted to deceive Khedira with a subtle turn following a back-pass from Wendell, but he very nearly dribbling the ball into his own net.

It was reckless behaviour from a team trailing by two goals and Juventus looked to exploit them for their petulance.

Pjanic whipped a venomous corner onto the near post and Ronaldo had a tame finish saved by Hradecky after Higuain engineered yet another attacking move.

Bayer Leverkusen had their only notable chance when Paulinho looped a volley over the crossbar after Szczesny emerged rapidly from his goal.

One thing that has motivated Ronaldo throughout his distinguished career is his propensity to prove his critics wrong. Despite missing numerous gilt-edged chances, the 34-year-old eventually grabbed his first goal in Europe this season.

Paolo Dybala replaced Higuain in the latter stages and influenced the match immediately by weaving an exquisite pass into the path of Ronaldo. He took the ball in his stride and planted his finish past Hradecky with aplomb.

Player Ratings

Juventus: Szczesny (5), Cuadrado (6), Bonucci (6), De Ligt (5), Sandro (6), Khedira (6), Pjanic (8), Matuidi (7), Bernardeschi (7), Higuain (9), Ronaldo (7). Subs Used: Ramsey (5), Bentancur (4), Dybala (5).

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky (4), Weiser (5), Tah (4), S. Bender (5), Wendell (5), Havertz (6), Aranguiz (5), Baumgartlinger (5), Demirbay (4), Volland (4), Alario (5). Subs Used: Amiri (5), Paulinho (5), Sinkgraven (4).    

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