Alvaro Morata’s brilliant late goal gave Juventus a 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have stormed to five victories from as many matches in the Premier League to establish themselves as the early domestic pace-setters but were largely unable to find the fluency with which they have illuminated the opening weeks of the season.
By contrast, Juventus have one point from three Serie A outings but responded superbly to Giorgio Chiellini’s controversial own goal to steal the points through strike duo Morata and Mario Mandzukic.
For the fifth consecutive season, City have failed to win their opening home game of a Champions League campaign as Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Bony both wasted fine opportunities in front of goal.
Juve remain short of the form that propelled them to last season’s final against Barcelona but displayed a streetwise streak that City still appear to lack at this level.
Sterling was back in the City starting XI following a minor hamstring complaint and the England winger forced Gianluigi Buffon to save sharply with his feet in the second minute.
Juventus showed their share of early ambition and had the ball in the net after 12 minutes but Pogba’s effort was ruled out – Morata having attempted to connect with Juan Cuadrado’s cross in an offside position at the near post.
Cuadrado flashed a shot across Joe Hart’s goal before City playmaker David Silva broke from shackles imposed by the Juventus midfield to feed Bony in the 32nd minute.
The Ivory Coast striker brilliantly nutmegged Leonardo Bonucci but proceeded to slice an ugly attempt woefully wide as Sterling waited in space to his left.
Bony was muscled out of getting a decisive touch to Aleksandar Kolarov’s low cross and Fernandinho came close with a piledriver as City warmed to their task with half-time approaching.
Pellegrini’s team made a slugglish start to the second period but broke the deadlock in a fashion that prompted furious protests.
Silva whipped an out-swinging corner to the far post, where Kompany gave himself leverage on Chiellini’s shoulders and the defender helplessly diverted the ball into his own net before focusing his ire on the match officials.
Bony then dummied for Silva to burst towards goal and play in Sterling, whose shot was blocked. Silva collected the loose ball, only to be stunningly denied by Buffon – the veteran Italy international then standing firm to deny Bony as City sought to press home their advantage.
They were almost pegged back in the 62nd minute as Hart got down to his left to keep out Morata, while Pogba rivalled Bony for mis-hit of the evening shortly afterwards when City failed to clear a corner.
But Pogba showed his class in the 70th minute as his raking pass dropped over Eliaquim Mangala for Mandzukic – starved of service until the final 20 minutes – to convert via the inside of Hart’s left-hand post.
Kompany then appeared to sustain an injury and Nicolas Otamendi was subsequently handed a surprise debut with 16 minutes to play.
And Morata got the better of the substitute to collect a loose ball on the edge of the box and curl a briliant 81st-minute winner beyond Hart.
City attempted to respond, but Hart’s opposite number Buffon once again excelled himself at the death to keep out Yaya Toure.