Sunday 28 May 2017

Johnson rescues point as City miss chance to lay marker

Manchester City 1
Juventus 1

Carlos Tevez of Manchester City in action with Zdenek Grygera of Juventus. Photo: Getty Images
Carlos Tevez of Manchester City in action with Zdenek Grygera of Juventus. Photo: Getty Images

Mark Ogden

Manchester City will have to rely on the imminent release of their financial results to make European football sit up and take notice after an obdurate Juventus denied them an eye-catching Europa League victory at Eastlands.

Adam Johnson's first-half goal, which cancelled out Vincenzo Iaquinta's 10th minute opener, secured a 1-1 draw in this Group A encounter against the fallen giants of Italian football.

But City's failure to send Juve to defeat will have no doubt provoked a wry grin on the face on Michel Platini, the inspirational figure of the Turin club's 1985 European Cup triumph and now the president of Uefa. Platini, more than most, has been an outspoken critic of clubs who spend beyond their means.

City's financial muscle suggests that their means are unlimited, but their results will show heavy losses just as Platini is determined to drive clubs towards a more sustainable approach.

The Europa League continues its struggle to emerge from the giant shadow of the Champions League and both of these clubs, for wholly different reasons, would prefer this season's campaign to be their last alliance with Uefa's ugly sister.

Luigi del Neri's team defied their current mid-table status in Serie A, however, by taking the game to City in early stages. Iaquinta forced a save from Joe Hart after just four minutes and the City goalkeeper was fortunate to escape embarrassment when he fumbled Alessandro del Piero's long-range free-kick three minutes later.

The England No 1 was caught out on 10 minutes, though, when he failed to keep out Iaquinta's 30-yard strike .

Iaquinta was perhaps allowed too much space by full-back Jerome Boateng, but his shot was audacious nonetheless. A slight deflection off Kolo Toure proved enough to deceive Hart.

Juventus were impressive down the flanks, with Jorge Martinez and Milos Krasic proving a handful for Boateng and Pablo Zabaleta, but Adam Johnson and Carlos Tevez were equally dangerous in their wide roles for City.

City had responded well to going behind and the equaliser they deserved came on 37 minutes when Johnson sprung the offside trap to claim Yaya Toure's sublime pass before beating Alex Manninger from 12 yards.

As the game progressed, the defensive instincts of both coaches began to come to the fore and the midfield became the key area of battle. Serbian midfielder Milos Krasic was harshly booked for diving in the first half when it appeared as though he had been tripped in the penalty area by Vincent Kompany.

Perhaps fuelled by a sense of injustice, the former CSKA Moscow playmaker tormented Kompany and Boateng as he attempted to inspire Juventus back into the lead.

Johnson went closer to scoring, however, when he cut in from the right before testing Manninger with a low left-foot shot from 20 yards. Del Piero then sent a 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide as Juventus responded, but Emmanuel Adebayor was guilty of wasting a golden chance to put City ahead when he headed Tevez's cross wide from six yards.

Juventus almost snatched victory four minutes from time when Del Piero's free-kick struck the bar before bouncing off the line. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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