Paulo Dybala came to Juventus’ rescue with two late goals as it came from behind to defeat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League.
Aleksey Miranchuk’s first-half goal had looked set to cause a major upset in Tuesday’s Group D clash in Turin until Argentina forward Dybala struck in the 77th and 79th minute.
Victory will come as a relief to boss Maurizio Sarri, who had seen his team struggle to break down a resolute Lokomotiv defence.
The result sees them keep pace in the table with Atletico Madrid, with the two sides looking well placed to reach the knockout phases after their respective successes on matchday three.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonardo Bonucci spurned opportunities and Juve was made to pay on the half-hour mark when Miranchuk clinically fired home with a stunning left-footed volley after Wojciech Szczesny had palmed Joao Mario’s shot back into the danger area.
Sarri introduced Gonzalo Higuain for Sami Khedira soon after the restart in an attempt to change his team’s fortunes and the striker twice threatened in the latter stages.
Juve’s pressure eventually told with 13 minutes remaining when Juan Cuadrado slipped a ball inside to Dybala, who curled wonderfully inside goalkeeper Guilherme’s right post from the edge of the penalty area.
And his heroics continued two minutes later when Alex Sandro’s long-range effort was parried into his path, as he demonstrated textbook technique to strike low beyond the Lokomotiv keeper.
The win pulls Juve level on seven points with Atletico Madrid, which defeated Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 earlier in the day. It is those two European giants who now look strong favourites to progress.
However, with three points on the board and two matches still to come at home, Lokomotiv should not be entirely dismissed, especially after the scare it gave the Bianconeri.
Unusually, the plaudits did not belong to Cristiano Ronaldo, who gave an uncharacteristically lacklustre display. A goal against Lokomotiv would have handed him yet another record to add to his collection, putting him ahead of Raul as the player to score against the most opponents in the competition. It was not to be on this occasion, however another opportunity comes in the reverse fixture.