An early Moise Kean header was enough for Juventus to defeat Malmo 1-0 and secure top spot in Group H, after Chelsea drew with Zenit in Saint Petersburg.
The victory was just what Massimiliano Allegri had ordered, making it three wins on the bounce in all competitions and five in six Champions League outings.
There were plenty more positives to take, starting with a third clean sheet in a week – this time with Mattia Perin in goal.
Koni De Winter made his full debut for the senior side, becoming the youngest Juve player to start a Champions League match (19 years, 179 days), while Kean’s strike makes him the second-youngest Italian to score for the Bianconeri in the Champions League (21 years, 283 days), after a certain Alessandro Del Piero.
Allegri brought a number of fresh faces into the starting line-up – Perin in goal, Daniele Rugani in defence, De Winter and Arthur in midfield – and had Weston McKennie and Mattia De Sciglio available again on the bench.
Juve started strong and dominated the opening exchanges (73% possession). It wasn’t long before the pressure saw the Bianconeri break the deadlock, courtesy of another Federico Bernardeschi assist – his third in as many games and fourth for the season. In the 18th minute, the Italy man clipped an inch-perfect cross towards Kean, who duly obliged by heading home.
If anyone was expecting a reaction from Malmo, none was forthcoming. The Swedes managed zero shots on target in the first half as Juve comfortably controlled proceedings and had the chance to double their lead shortly before the break, but Arthur’s finish was wayward.
01 Jmalmo 8-12
02 Jmalmo 8-12
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04 Jmalmo 8-12
Allegri rested Paulo Dybala for the second half, with Alvaro Morata replacing him, as Juve came out after the restart clearly intent on putting the game to bed.
The Bianconeri fashioned three decent chances in the opening quarter of an hour – two for Adrien Rabiot and a shot by Rodrigo Bentancur – but were unable to double their advantage.
Malmo then finally ventured into Juve territory and threatened twice in a matter of minutes through Antonio Colak and Sergio Pena.
That prompted Juve to seek the second goal with more resolve and Kean might have made it a brace midway through the half but Ismael Diawara was equal to it.
The Bianconeri kept pushing but, despite the best efforts of Rabiot, Kean, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado on break with five minutes remaining, just couldn’t kill off the contest.
Allianz Stadium had to settle for a single goal, yet there was still time for a roar at the end as news filtered through from Russia that Zenit had equalised in stoppage time – leaving Juve to celebrate qualifying for the knockout stage as group winners.
JUVENTUS 1-0 MALMO (HT 1-0)
Scorer: Kean 18.
Juventus: Perin; de Winter (De Sciglio 71), Rugani, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Bernardeschi (Cuadrado 82), Bentancur (Miretti 90+1), Arthur, Rabiot; Kean (Da Graca 90), Dybala (Morata 46).
Subs not used: Szczesny, Pinsoglio, Chiellini, De Ligt, Locatelli.
Malmo: Diawara; Moisender, Ahmedhodzic, Nielsen, Olsson; Berget, Christiansen, Innocent (Nalic 89), Rakip (Pena 30); Birmancevic, Colak (Abubakari 78).
Subs not used: Brorsson, Dahlon, Ellborg, Gwargis, Larsson, Nalic, Nanasi.
Referee: Irfan Peljto.
Booked: Colak 49, Innocent 69, Pena 80, Rabiot 90.