MANCHESTER, September 16- Italian champions Juventus cast their early-season woes aside by beating in-form Manchester City 2-1 in their opening Champions League Group D fixture at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Last season’s beaten finalists, Juve have lost two and drawn one of their first three Serie A games and went behind in the 57th minute when Vincent Kompany pressured Giorgio Chiellini into scoring an own goal.
The Juventus centre-back protested with justification that he had been fouled, but his side drew level 13 minutes later through Mario Mandzukic before Alvaro Morata curled home a fine 81st-minute winner.
“Well done to the boys, because I think they played a really good game against an excellent team that has outstanding players,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“It’s a pretty delicate moment for us. It’s not easy to win here and I think the players played extremely well.”
After five straight wins in the Premier League, it was a first setback of the season for Manuel Pellegrini’s City, whose home form has bedevilled them in their unsuccessful attempts to progress beyond this tournament’s last 16 in the last four seasons.
They have won only three of their last 12 home games in the competition and find themselves on the back foot already ahead of their next match away to Borussia Moenchengladbach on September 30.
“It’s disappointing. I don’t think we deserved to lose,” said City manager Pellegrini.
“We had better chances and played better than Juventus. It was a typical Champions League game. Both teams didn’t create many chances, but we had more possession.
“It was not a tactical problem. Juventus just scored two beautiful goals.”
Allegri admitted on the eve of the game that his side had been scarred by their dismal domestic form and he will have been alarmed to see their defences breached inside two minutes.
Fernandinho drove forward from midfield and slipped a pass into the path of Raheem Sterling, whose low shot was blocked by Gianluigi Buffon.
– Buffon save –
Both sides were largely reduced to pot shots in the first period, Fernandinho going closest for City with a wicked 25-yard effort that drew a collective intake of breath from the home fans.
The hosts spent the first part of the second period inside their own half, but in the 57th minute they broke through in circumstances that left Juventus fuming at Slovenian referee Damir Skomina.
David Silva’s left-wing corner appeared to have been headed in by Kompany, but replays revealed that the Belgian had in fact pressured Chiellini into heading the ball into his own net.
Suddenly Juve were all at sea, Buffon producing a superb double-save to thwart first Sterling and then Silva, before beating away an effort from Wilfried Bony.
The action quickly switched to the other box and Buffon’s opposite number Joe Hart was obliged to parry a scuffed shot from Stefano Sturaro.
It had been a quiet night for former Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, who was jeered after slicing a volley wide, but in the 70th minute he created the equaliser with a glorious, arcing left-wing cross that the airborne Mandzukic touched home.
After five Premier League clean sheets, it was the first goal City had conceded this season.
City had been readying £54 million ($83.3 million, 73.5 million euros) record signing Kevin De Bruyne and he came on for Sterling, before Kompany succumbed to a calf injury, with Nicolas Otamendi going on for his debut.
Kompany wore a glum expression as he took his seat on the bench and his mood was not improved when the ball bounced off Aleksandar Kolarov and into the path of Morata, who bent a sweet left-foot shot in off the left-hand post.
Sergio Aguero, surprisingly named on the bench after Pellegrini had ruled him out of the game with a knee injury, made a late entrance, but the closest City came to an equaliser was a Yaya Toure curler that Buffon acrobatically palmed behind.