Goal achieved despite everything going wrong

Cristiano Ronaldo rueing a missed chance in Juventus' 2-1 loss to Young Boys. But they still topped the group as Manchester United also lost.
Cristiano Ronaldo rueing a missed chance in Juventus' 2-1 loss to Young Boys. But they still topped the group as Manchester United also lost.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BERN • Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri blamed his side's lack of focus after they fell to a surprise 2-1 Champions League loss to Young Boys in their final group game on Wednesday, but was glad to advance to the last 16 as group leaders.

Guillaume Hoarau scored in both halves for Young Boys in Switzerland but the Italians still took top spot in Group H after Manchester United lost by the same scoreline to Valencia. Juventus finished with 12 points with United on 10, Valencia on eight and Young Boys with four.

"We achieved our objective by winning the group, even on a night where everything seemed to go wrong. Maybe we weren't focused enough," said Allegri.

"We missed so many opportunities and gave away a penalty, so at the end of the day, it was only right that we lost. Things just didn't go our way, but we still won the group and I therefore thank the lads."

The Swiss champions proved too hot to handle for the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Juventus, whose 26-match unbeaten run away from home ended in freezing temperatures in Bern.

Paulo Dybala - who scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 home game in Turin - came off the bench just after the second goal and pulled one back for Allegri's side 10 minutes from time.

"The important thing is that we won the group, even if it's thanks to Valencia beating Manchester United," said the Argentinian forward. "The defeat hurts, because we came here looking for the win, but it should serve as a lesson for the future."

Ronaldo, the record scorer in the elite European competition with 120 goals, started the match despite Juventus already having secured a berth in the knockout rounds.

Allegri wanted to ensure his side avoided being drawn against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain in the next round.

"Now the best part of the Champions League is coming," said Ronaldo, 33, who has lifted the European trophy five times.

"Today we're not happy because we wanted to win in the first half. I could have scored several goals and, if I did, the result would probably have been different.

"I feel good physically. The fact of playing every match is a decision that I take together with my coach."

It was the first away setback this season for Juventus, who have won seven times on the road in Serie A and twice in the Champions League. The last away defeat dates back to November 2017, a 3-2 loss to Sampdoria in Serie A - since then Juventus have had 23 wins and three draws.

Their last Champions League away defeat dates back to September 2017, a 3-0 loss to Barcelona.

Juve face city rivals Torino tomorrow, looking to extend their eight-point lead in the Italian top flight.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2018, with the headline 'Goal achieved despite everything going wrong'. Print Edition | Subscribe