Turin: Carlos Tevez ended his five-year Champions League goal drought with a second-half brace to give Juventus a precious 2-0 win over Swedish champions Malmo in Turin on Tuesday. Tevez had not scored in the competition since hitting the net for Manchester United in a 2-2 draw with FC Porto at Old Trafford on April 7, 2009.
But amid a dominant display by the Italian champions in Turin, the Argentinian rekindled the flame to secure a win that leaves Juve level in Group A with Olympiakos after the Greeks' 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid.
"It doesn't matter I wasn't scoring in the Champions League," Tevez told Sky Sports after the game. "The important thing is we won tonight and took the points." "He played really well tonight, especially in the second half," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said of Tevez. "We won the game but it was a moderately good performance. It's still early in the competition and we have a lot of things to improve on."
With Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal still recovering from injury, Claudio Marchisio had the task of marshalling Juve's five-man midfield with Paul Pogba and Kwadwo Asamoah, the latter moving a notch inside in place of wingback Patrice Evra.
At the back, Giorgio Chiellini returned from suspension but for most of the match Juve's three-man defence had comparatively little to worry about. Malmo, who battled through three knockout rounds to reach the group stages, had little to offer. Coach Age Hareide knew the difficulty of the task but said Tevez was the difference.
"We were very disciplined in the first half, we forced them into the corners as we'd set out to do," said Hareide. "But I think the difference was absolutely Carlos Tevez -- although Juventus are full of quality players." The hosts took command from kick-off but went in for the half-time break frustrated with what was a poor return from a one-sided encounter after near misses, notably by Claudio Marchisio and Asamoah.
Malmo's first real offensive was met with jeers after Pogba was upended by midfielder Pa Konate, who earned a yellow card from Polish referee Szymon
Marciniak. Buffon's biggest challenge until then was to rush out and block Magnus Eriksson as the midfielder connected with a long punt from deep on the right.
Asamoah's move inside of Juve's midfield was offering more in the way of goalscoring opportunities and on 19 minutes he missed the target with head and boot on several occasions. Juve, however, spurned their best chance of the half two minutes before the break. Lichtsteiner ran on to a defence-splitting pass only for a pass-come-shot drift agonisingly wide as Asamoah lurked at the far post.
When Lichtsteiner squandered another golden chance five minutes after the restart, the frustration was palpable as fans got up out of their seats. Pogba's defence-splitting pass sent the Swiss wingback clear on the right but he opted for a futile pass to Tevez instead of shooting. But the match, and the stadium, finally burst into life on the hour.
Tevez's chip found Asamoah to the right of goal and when the Ghanaian responded with a cool backheel into the Argentinian's path he stepped in to drive the ball past the outstretched hands of Olsen. Juve had the ball in the net moments later when Llorente tapped Lichsteiner's low cross into the net but it was ruled offside. Lichtsteiner, again, got his head to a powerful delivery from Evra but saw his bouncing header go over.
Llorente and Pogba both failed to make contact with Evra's low delivery across the face of goal. The Spanish international was then denied twice in succession by a superb Olsen, who pulled off a brilliant one-handed save. Llorente made way for Alvaro Morata in the closing minutes and when the Spaniard won a freekick on the edge of the area Tevez stepped up to curl the ball inside the far post.