KIEV, Ukraine, Oct 20 – Alvaro Morata struck twice on Tuesday as Juventus made light of Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence to get their Champions League campaign off the mark with a 2-0 win at Dynamo Kiev.
Spain’s Morata opened the scoring just after the break when he tapped in off a rebound and nodded in a second with six minutes to put Juventus second in Group G behind Barcelona who beat Hungarian minnows Ferencvaros 5-1.
Portugal captain Ronaldo and US midfielder Weston McKennie both missed the trip to the Ukraine after testing positive for coronavirus, with Alex Sandro and Matthijs de Ligt out injured.
But Andrea Pirlo, 41, got his European coaching debut off to a winning start against veteran Dynamo coach Mircea Lucescu who gave the Italian his first Serie A start as a Brescia player 25 years ago.
“One step at a time. It was important to play a solid match compared to Saturday against Crotone,” said Pirlo of the 1-1 league draw.
“We managed to try something (in training) on Monday and we were more organised for today.”
The Italian champions had little to show for their early domination against the young Ukrainian side with Dynamo goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan denying early efforts from Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski.
Juve skipper Giorgio Chiellini also nodded wide before the veteran defender was replaced by Merih Demiral after 18 minutes after limping off clutching his leg.
Morata’s first goal came after Bushchan parried Kulusevski’s effort, allowing the striker to finish off the rebound, in front of a crowd of 15,000 in the Ukrainian capital.
Paulo Dybala came on for Kulusevski 10 minutes after the break for the Argentina forward’s first start this season.
But it was former Chelsea striker Morata who had the final word with a powerful header from a Juan Cuadrado cross which gave him a third goal in a week since moving on loan back to Juventus from Atletico Madrid.
– ‘Go all the way’ –
“(Chiellini’s) injury forced us to change the cards but Demiral did very well,” said Pirlo.
“The approach I had from the beginning was to have more players in attack.
“Chiesa has attacking duties and can play on either flank, Kulusevski and Ramsey can come inside and with Cuadrado on the right our wide men can really push up.
“Let’s not forget that we’re without Ronaldo and Dybala is not 100%, so our attacking set-up can change.
“Paulo needs to play to reach peak fitness. He’s getting back to his best slowly but surely.
“Chiellini felt a twinge in his thigh so we’ll need to take a look at him.”
Pirlo took over this season after Maurizio Sarri was sacked after the Italian champions’ last 16 exit to Lyon last season.
“These are three important points,” said Morata.
“Every year there is the possibility to win and we want to fight to go all the way.”
Juventus are chasing a third Champions League title after 1985 and 1996, with seven runners-up finishes, including in 2015, with Pirlo playing, and 2017.
Juventus next play Barcelona on October 28 in Turin, with both teams on three points.