Juventus remained on track to qualify for the Champions League last 16 despite being held to a scoreless draw by Borussia Monchengladbach in a one-sided Group D clash in Turin on Wednesday.
Last season’s beaten finalists have defied their poor Serie A form with a sterling start to the group stages this season.
But after beating Manchester City away and dominating Sevilla in a 2-0 win last time out, Massimiliano Allegri’s Italian champions just could not find a way past Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer to clinch the win that would have given them an element of comfort ahead of their remaining three group games — two of which are away from home.
The result leaves Juventus top of the group on seven points, but just one ahead of City after the English side’s last-gasp 2-1 win over Sevilla.
Sevilla drop to third, two points ahead of Gladbach after the Germans claimed their first point of the competition.
Gladbach coach Andre Schubert had pledged his revived Bundesliga side would come to Turin determined to go for the win, but there was little evidence of his promise.
Brazilian Raffael saw a speculative effort go wide in the opening minutes, but the visitors spent most of the remainder sitting back and stifling Juve’s steady stream of attacks.
Allegri had used some of his pre-match conference on Tuesday to call on misfiring midfielder Paul Pogba to up his flagging game, and the Frenchman responded positively.
Pogba produced a number of chances, mostly from distance, in either half but failed to break down a stubborn visitors’ backline.
Pogba turned provider, too, setting up Mario Mandzukic on 22 minutes but the striker’s effort was blocked.
Only a minute later Juan Cuadrado spurned his chance for a maiden Champions League goal when his effort beat Sommer only to go just over.
Another Pogba rocket was blocked by the head of Gladbach captain Granit Xhaka following a corner and after defender Giorgio Chiellini fired a header wide from a corner, Pogba saw his daisycutter inch wide of the post.
Juve looked to be in for a long night and Allegri spotted the signs early, replacing Cuadrado with Roberto Pereyra on the hour to give the Uruguayan his first outing since being suspended for crashing his Ferrari in Turin while under the influence.
But Gladbach continued to dig in, taking risks in the process.
Juve’s Spanish striker Alvaro Morata had been bidding for his sixth consecutive goal in a Champions League game, having pulled level with the club record of Alessandro Del Piero last time out.
But when he intercepted Alvaro Dominguez to send himself on path to goal, Morata was hauled down by the defender, who was issued a yellow card.
Morata then saw a shot blocked at the back post after running on to Pogba’s chip and Pogba saw another free kick effort stopped by Sommer.
Juve had late penalty claims waved away when Mandzukic fell as he tried to run past Dominguez and on to Sami Khedira’s through ball.
Allegri’s frustration grew and minutes later Mandzukic was replaced by Simone Zaza, while Morata later made way for Paulo Dybala.
Their arrivals injected some pace and vibrancy into Juve’s attack, but were not sufficient to stop Gladbach from claiming a first point that could prove useful in the event they end up battling for a third place finish for which the reward is a place in the Europa League.
. By AFP