The Juventus ball possession count was insane at 78% in the first half and although Jose Mourinho’s players managed to stay in the match until the very end, it felt like the team from Turin was the only one playing football for grown-ups. There was Cristiano Ronaldo too, a great footballer in the evening of his career, a reminder of the way they used to play at Old Trafford, but really the star attraction was bigger than him. it was an accomplished Juventus team who out-thought and out-passed their opposition.
Ronaldo was applauded by the home fans off at the end, the third pitch invader of the night intercepted on his way to the former United man. At the end, the No 7 stopped to reciprocate on his way off the pitch to those home fans who remained in the stadium. The club used to give their former players that treatment out of sympathy in the old days, recognition that those who had departed had left the great days of their career behind when they stepped out this stadium, although that could hardly be said to be the case any longer.
United ended the night with just 39 per cent possession and one wonders what will happen when they visit Turin on Nov 7. Pogba did hit the post with 15 minutes of the game remaining although it will be hard for him and Nemanja Matic to forget a first half when they were nowhere near either Bentancur or Dybala, who controlled that critical first 45 minutes.
De Gea wisely chose to block a Ronaldo free-kick in the first half that was struck with that slap of the laces of his right foot that makes the ball’s trajectory flutter unreliably. In the second half the United goalkeeper sprung to push another Ronaldo smash over the bar, pulling off the kind of one-handed save that very few goalkeepers can make.
At the other end, Wojciech Szczesny was scarcely bothered, and this was a man who conceded eight at Old Trafford seven years ago. The Juventus defence never looked more capable than when Bonucci chased Martial onto a promising ball into the area and dispossessed him with the kind of sliding tackle that lesser mortals might have considered reckless.