Juve on track for Euro glory after 21 years: Khedira

LISBON • Sami Khedira believes this could be the season that Juventus end their 21-year wait for a third European title after the Italian side beat Porto 2-0 away in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday.

Marko Pjaca and Dani Alves came off the bench to break 10-man Porto's resolve with two goals in three second-half minutes after the hosts had lost Alex Telles to a mindless first-half red card.

While Khedira maintains the tie is still alive, he said he had a "good feeling" about Juventus' chances of winning a first European crown since 1996.

"Sometimes you have a feeling and this year I do have a very good feeling, but unfortunately seven or eight other teams have the same feeling," the Germany midfielder told BT Sport.

"We have to work, go forward with much concentration and I think we can reach it."

Serie A leaders Juventus transferred their rampant domestic form onto the European stage with a dominant display against Porto to end the home side's 20-game unbeaten home streak.

Juve defender Dani Alves celebrating after scoring his team's second goal in the 2-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg win over Porto.
Juve defender Dani Alves celebrating after scoring his team’s second goal in the 2-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg win over Porto. PHOTO: REUTERS

Khedira, however, believes it is too early to write off the Portuguese outfit.

"We know football is crazy and anything can happen, as we saw last night in Manchester (as Manchester City twice came back from behind to beat Monaco 5-3)," he said. "It's absolutely not over.

"We're happy with tonight but in three weeks we'll need to be careful as Porto are angry and have nothing to lose."

The victory was Juventus' fourth consecutive European away triumph and they have now scored in their last 23 matches in all competitions.

"We played 90 minutes with control and patience, so it's a good result going into the second leg," added Khedira, a Champions League winner with Real Madrid in 2014.

"It's hard to play 11 against 10, especially at this level, as it's difficult to break the deadlock. We scored late but we never lost control."

Porto manager Nuno Espirito Santo will look to inspire his players, who must now produce the game of their lives in the second leg on March 14 to progress in the tournament, noted Uefa.com.

"We go to Turin, where we must compete," he said after Porto's first home loss since April 30 last year.

"It's true that the tie looks very difficult, but it's not yet done. Football has shown over the years that everything is possible."

Citing his side's success in Italy this season - a 3-0 victory against Roma in the Champions League play-offs - Porto defender Felipe said there is reason to be positive ahead of the return leg at the Juventus Stadium.

"The onus is on us now to chase a result," he said.

"It will be complicated, but it's not impossible. We showed against Roma what we are capable of and against Juventus it can't be any different."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Juve on track for Euro glory after 21 years: Khedira'. Print Edition | Subscribe