Douglas Costa’s injury-time goal saw Juventus overcome a strong challenge from Lokomotiv Moscow to emerge 2-1 winners in the Champions League.
Maurizio Sarri’s decision to make seven changes to his line-up nearly backfired as Lokomotiv sought to delay Juventus’ qualifcation hopes of a Champions League last-16 spot on Wednesday night.
In fact, the Russians took just nine minutes to cancel out Aaron Ramsey’s opener at the RZD Arena through Aleksey Miranchuk.
It set-up a tough and challenging contest between the two teams, with neither one unable to break down the other.
Just as things seemed set for a draw, however, Douglas Costa teammed up with Gonzalo Higuain to score a stoppage-time winner for Juventus – much to the relief of Sarri and everyone in Turin.
Now, we’ll take a look at what went down in Moscow.
Qualification sealed for the knockout rounds
As one of the favorites for glory this season, Juventus booking a spot into the last-16 from Group D was no surprise.
Nevertheless, it takes a bit of pressure off Sarri given the Bianconeri’s somewhat lackluster performances under him. Now he can use the two remaining fixtures as a chance to rotate his squad.
Although top spot isn’t secured yet, with Juventus only three points ahead of Atletico Madrid. Therefore, the upcoming meeting between the two teams in Turin on November 26 could potentially be the decider.
Ronaldo fails to set new Champions League record
It was a night to forget for a frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo having struggled to beat the Lokomotiv defense.
Although he did play a vital part in Juventus’ opener when Lokomotiv goalkeeper Guilherme accidentally spilled his free-kick to allow Ramsey to put Juventus in front after three minutes.
But Guilherme made amends by pulling off a terrific save from Ronaldo later on. It denied the Portuguese a new Champions League record for scoring against the most clubs.
So, he remains level with fellow Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez in striking against 32 different clubs.
Perhaps, this was the reason why he was so frustrated by Sarri’s decision to substitute him for Paulo Dybala in the final eight minutes.
Ramsey makes European history
Swapping Arsenal for Juventus over the summer was a bold move, in the eyes of many fans, on Ramsey’s behalf.
But the Wales international has got off to a respectable start to his Turin career. And he scored his second goal of the season against Lokomotiv on Wednesday.
While it was a fortunate one, it still enabled Ramsey to become the first British player to score a European goal for Juventus. It was also the club’s 300th Champions League goal in history.
And, while Ramsey still looks like he isn’t at 100% percent yet, the goal will undoubtedly give him a confidence boost.
Miranchuk scores Lokomotiv’s fastest UCL goal in 16 years
While three points would’ve been the perfect outcome, Miranchuk ensured Lokomotiv fans had something to cheer about.
The Russian cancelled out Ramsey’s opener by putting his rebounded effort into the back of the net in the 12th-minute. It was Lokomotiv’s quickest Champions League goal since Dmitri Loskov’s third-minute strike against Inter Milan in October 2003.
Miranchuk also became the first player since Ronaldo to score both at home and away against Juventus in the group stages.
Douglas Costa to the rescue
Life under Sarri hasn’t gotten off to an easy start for Costa having only made five appearances amid injury woes.
However, the Brazilian took his chance to shine in a 20-minute cameo on Wednesday by grabbing the winner. It came following some great teamwork with Higuain before firing the ball past Guilherme.
Now, with his first goal of the season in the bag, Costa will hope to convince Sarri of starting him against AC Milan on Sunday.