TURIN (AFP) – Juventus will have to be at their best if they are to overcome Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie to qualify for the quarter-finals, Alvaro Morata said.
Spanish striker Morata hit his maiden Champions League goal for the Italian champions to seal a 2-1 first leg win in a thrilling encounter in Turin, where Dortmund winger Marco Reus took advantage of a defensive howler to level five minutes after Carlos Tevez’s 13th minute opener.
Juventus, who lost Andrea Pirlo to a suspected hamstring injury, were much improved in the second half as Dortmund’s first-half efforts at keeping a rein on Juve’s creative midfielders began to tell.
Yet Massimiliano Allegri’s side went on to spurn several chances to extend their advantage after the restart, leaving Dortmund — beaten finalists two years ago — with a solid chance of progressing to the last eight.
The sides meet at the BVB Stadion on March 18 and Morata admitted: “It will be an intense atmosphere, we will have to be at our best but we’ll be going there with qualification on our minds.”
Former Real Madrid striker Morata added: “It’s the best game I’ve played since I’ve been at Juventus, we did well. But it was a difficult game, Dortmund are a srong side despite the fact they’re having some difficulties in the league.”
Allegri had warned of the threat of Dortmund’s potent counter-attack, but it was from such a move that Tevez broke the deadlock when he bundled the rebound from Morata’s drive across goal past outstretched ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller.
Juventus looked to be in their stride but their joy was ended minutes later following a howler by Giorgio Chiellini.
The central defender slipped on the edge of the area, missed the ball completely and clattered into Leonardo Bonucci, allowing Reus to waltz in and collect before picking his spot against a rooted Gianluigi Buffon.
The reality of Dortmund’s away-goal leveller appeared to take hold.
While Juve looked out of sorts for long spells in the opening half, Borussia moved the ball around with ease, albeit without really threatening Buffon.
Allegri admitted: “We definitely struggled a little in the first half, when they closed down a lot of our passes.”
On 33 minutes midfielder Nuri Sahin had time to unleash a long-range effort that swerved late before Buffon parried with both hands, but Juve took the lead against the run of play just before the interval.
Tevez collected a long ball from his own half and set up Paul Pogba on the left for the Frenchman to deliver a low cross which Morata glanced inside Weidenfeller’s far post with the inside of his boot.
Juve resumed in positive fashion but spurned several clear chances to put the result beyond doubt.
After ballooning over from 10 yards out, Tevez edged closer when he fired a low drive amid a rabble of players which crept inches wide of the upright.
Dortmund saw a rare chance go amiss when Immobile fired a yard over Buffon’s crossbar from 20 metres.
Tevez was sent through on the right to force Weidenfeller into action and from the corner Chiellini was allowed to rise above Aubameyang to fire a powerful header just over.
Five minutes from full time Roberto Pereyra, who had replaced Pirlo on 37 minutes, missed a great chance when he was sent through by Tevez only for his angled low drive to sneaked just past the far post.
It was a game of two halves for the Bundesliga strugglers, and left coach Jurgen Klopp visibly frustrated. Asked if he was angry, he said: “Yes… it was a fair result and Juventus deserved the win.
“Particularly in the second half Juventus created a lot of chances that they didn’t put away and we didn’t create the chances we should have.
“They were good at closing us down and not allowing us to play our kind of game. On the goals we conceded, it was down to errors of positioning.
“These are problems we have to rectify but nothing has been lost. There’s still everything to play for at Dortmund.