Donetsk: Juventus advanced to the knockout stages of the Champions League by winning 1-0 at Shakhtar Donetsk to clinch top spot in Group E on Wednesday. The Italian champion only had to avoid defeat to progress, and an own goal by Shakhtar defender Olexander Kucher from Juventus right back Stephan Lichtsteiner's low cross in the 56th minute made sure of qualification.
The result meant Chelsea became the first defending champion to exit at the group stage despite thrashing Nordsjaelland 6-1. Juventus finished with 12 points, two more than Shakhtar and Chelsea. The Ukrainian club went through due to a better head-to-head record. The Blues were demoted to the Europa League.
A draw seemed unlikely from the kick off as both sides poured men forward, often with spells of possession that lasted several minutes in each other's half. Play was even, yet double-edged. Shakhtar looked brighter, but as the first half progressed, Juventus grew into the game, as they started to find more space on offense. One time, Juventus camped in Shakhtar territory for a good five minutes.
Juventus' first sight of goal came in the 10th minute when Mirko Vucinic took a pass that drifted away from Kucher, but his ensuing volley flew overhead. In the 29th, Sebastian Giovinco missed far to the right from the top of the box with only goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov to beat. Yet Shakhtar found it difficult to penetrate Juventus' back three, with the Italian side making numerous interceptions.
Shakhtar showed determination. In the first half, Fernandinho slid a smart pass onto the right wing for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but his touch was overloaded. Shakhtar's best chance came early in the second but Gianluigi Buffon, who was making his 100th appearance at European level, blocked Yaroslav Rakitskiy's free kick in the 49th. The rebound was overshot by Alex Teixeira. Substitute Ilsinho hit the post in the 67th.