|Manchester City’s hopes of topping their Champions League group suffered a blow after an entertaining 1-0 defeat to Juventus in Turin.|
City had already sealed qualification to the knockout stages in the previous round of matches but would be loathed to draw one of the tournament favourites in the last 16 by virtue of finishing second.
Mario Mandzukic ultimately proved the match winner in the early stages, shrugging off the attentions of Nicolas Otamendi to turn home from close range.
Fernando and Alvaro Morata both struck the woodwork in the second half before Raheem Sterling squandered a brilliant late chance to equalise as the Italian champions leapfrogged their opponents in Group D.
With City looking to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time this season after a run of nine games unbeaten, Manuel Pellegrini opted to drop Sterling to the bench after a chastening night against former employers Liverpool at the weekend.
Fernandinho looked the most likely to find a breakthrough in the early stages, firing wide from 20 yards and then inexplicably blazing over when the Brazilian’s composure deserted him.
And the City midfielder’s profligacy was punished after 18 minutes. Paul Pogba broke quickly into the visitors’ half, fed Alex Sandro who whipped an inviting cross for Mandzukic to guide past Hart from eight yards out.
City, and Otamendi in particular, felt aggrieved as Mandzukic appeared to push the Argentine defender to the floor but their appeals fell on deaf ears.
Juventus were now in the ascendancy and Hart brilliantly sprang low to his left to keep out a fierce Mandzukic half volley not long after.
City were struggling to create an opening but were nearly gifted an equaliser when Aguero pounced on a wayward Claudio Marcisio back pass, only to have his efforts smothered by veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Both sides were then denied agonizingly by the woodwork after the break. Fernando appeared to have equalised for City but for Buffon’s brilliant reflex save as he tipped the Brazilian’s header onto the post.
And City were left releasing a huge sigh of relief almost immediately as the post denied both Morata and Paulo Dybala in quick succession with the visitors' defence all at sea.
Pellegrini’s side were again indebted to Hart’s awareness with just over 10 minutes remaining, blocking Morata’s goalbound effort with his right foot after the Spanish striker had left Otamendi for dead.
And substitute Sterling then should have earned a share of the spoils, somehow contriving to skew wide from Kevin De Bruyne’s perfect cross with the goal at his mercy.
Elsewhere in the group, Borussia Monchengladbach ended Sevilla's slim chances of qualification with an absorbing 4-2 win in Germany.
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