Football

Maurizio Sarri hits out at Juventus, after limp loss to Lyon

Italian coach says his side, who did not get a shot on target, moved ball too slowly

Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri lambasted his side's pedestrian passing in their Champions League 1-0 defeat by Lyon yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Italian side failed to muster a single shot on target in a lacklustre display in the last-16, first-leg tie at the Groupama Stadium.

Midfielder Lucas Tousart scored the winner on 31 minutes, when Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt was off receiving treatment, and gave Lyon a lead to defend when they head to Turin for the return on March 17.

The 61-year-old Sarri accused his players of failing to respond to his demands to play the ball quickly.

"In the first half, we moved the ball too slowly," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"When the ball is slow, you lose positions, you allow the opposition to close you down, to be aggressive and steal the ball back. I don't even think the Lyon pressing was that strong.

"We just moved it slowly, never varied the tempo and, when you do that, it's unlikely you're going to create anything.

"We lacked determination and aggression when attacking, and for 15 minutes lacked it defensively too. We were unlucky to concede when de Ligt was off injured."

Juve have genuine ambitions of winning a trophy that has evaded them for almost a quarter of a century now, but they could not claim a precious away goal, with Paulo Dybala seeing a late effort disallowed.

"The second half was better, but it's not enough for a Champions League match. Fortunately, we still have 90 minutes to turn it around," Sarri added.

"I don't know why, I cannot get the players to understand the importance of moving the ball quickly. This is fundamental... I continued to tell them, and there were many who were doing it, moving the ball too slowly and therefore getting into the wrong positions."

The match went ahead before a full house at the Groupama Stadium, including around 3,000 Juventus supporters allowed to attend, despite calls from some French politicians to block their access amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus.

Those fans and the Juve squad would have crossed the Alps with confidence. The Serie A leaders came as overwhelming favourites against a Lyon team looking like possibly the weakest left in the competition.

Lyon coach Rudi Garcia praised his side's ability to rise to the occasion after pulling off an upset.

"It was a top-class, first-half performance from us. It was much harder in the second half, but I was happy with how we hung in there," Garcia said.

HUMBLE

"I said to the boys that, when you're at home in the first leg, it's very important not to concede and now we need to go and score there. We must remain humble, it's only half-time."

Cameroon forward Karl Ekambi, who hit the woodwork from a Houssem Aouar corner-kick midway through the first half, said his side have what it takes to overcome the Bianconeri in the return leg.

"We know that a difficult match awaited us, but we followed instructions. Nothing is over," Ekambi told OLTV.

"We are not going there to play for a draw. We will apply the coach's instructions and we will do everything to qualify."

Juve midfielder Aaron Ramsey warned Lyon that "they still have to come to our place".

"We believe in ourselves. With our fans right behind us, we can progress through to the next stages," insisted Ramsey.

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