Given their respective domestic standings, both teams were well aware that the UEL was their most likely route into the UEFA Champions League next season.
The Old Lady, who had never lost at home in the UEL, got off to a good start, with Federico Chiesa latching on to ngel Di Mara’s long pass before seeing his shot inside the box saved by Antonio Adán.
After knocking out current Premier League leaders Arsenal in the previous round, the Portuguese club knew they could pose a threat.
After absorbing the early pressure, Hidemasa Morita shot just wide from a distance before captain Sebastián Coates’ acrobatic volley from a corner was well saved by Wojciech Szczsny.
Rúben Amorim’s side were visibly growing in confidence, with the hosts struggling to keep hold of the ball. On the half-hour mark, their top scorer in the UEL this season, Pedro Gonçalves, had a shot saved at the near post by Szczęsny, before Nuno Santos’ goalbound effort was blocked by Gleison Bremer.
The home fans were growing increasingly frustrated, and their mood wasn’t helped when Szczęsny was forced off through injury with HT approaching.
Sporting had won just two of their last 16 UEL knockout games, but they sensed a real opportunity to take the initiative in the second half, with Gonçalves’ shot from range well saved by Mattia Perin two minutes after the restart.
Although Juventus had never lost at home in the UEL, they were looking somewhat vulnerable against the lively Lions, who had clearly come to play for more than just a draw.
The game appeared to be meandering towards a stalemate, however the hosts went ahead against the run of play when Federico Gatti forced the ball home from close range, ensuring the Old Lady hold a narrow advantage heading into next week’s second leg in Lisbon.
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