Milan: Juventus's impressive unbeaten streak came close to being ended in spectacular fashion Tuesday when the Serie A champions escaped with a 1-1 draw against Champions League Group E opponents Shakhtar Donetsk.
Shakhtar came to Turin with ample knowledge of their opponents thanks mainly to the nous of their coach Mircea Lucescu, who formerly coached Brescia and helped launched a teenaged Andrea Pirlo at the club.
And the youth-filled Ukrainian side went on to produce some fine individual and collective play to dominate an encounter they were unlucky not to win.
Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio later confirmed to Sky Sports: "We knew they'd be strong up front and knew how to play football.
"We could have lost this game, but we also missed several chances."
Lucescu said some of his team had been "playing together since they were 18", and now believes the Ukrainians are serious knockout phase contenders.
"A point against Juventus is great, it's an important result for us. Now people must believe we're serious contenders for the knockout phase," he said.
Juventus had talked pre-match of the danger posed by Brazilian Willian and fellow midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the latter spurned a golden chance when he sent a close range effort over the bar on six minutes.
In reply, Alessandro Matri then failed to connect with fellow striker Mirko Vucinic's cross after it had been deflected by Yaroslav Rakitskiy.
Juve's three-man defence had resisted defeat in 45 previous games but it was often exposed, and they were made to pay in the 23rd minute.
Willian was allowed to shoot from the edge of the area, pick up the rebound and feed Brazilian striker Alex Teixeira whose angled shot flew past Gianluigi Buffon and into the roof of the net.
Minutes later Juve levelled, Shakhtar's defence found lacking when unmarked Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci first-timed Andrea Pirlo's low corner into the roof of the net.
On the half hour Matri's effort from the edge of the area went straight into arms of keeper Andriy Pyatov.
Ghanaian Kwadwo Asamoah then did well to get ball across goal and although it went out for a corner Bonucci's downward header forced Pyatov to save frantically with his feet.
Juve started the second half more brightly and dominated possession, but ultimately struggled to find the final touch.
Stephan Lichsteiner's return pass into the area for Juve, with Matri in a scoring position, lacked power and when the Swiss midfielder was fed by Chilean Arturo Vidal another cross towards goal was cleared.
Sebastian Giovinco came on for Vucinic just before the hour and the little midfielder powered down the left to cross for Matri but the striker's first-timer from close range went over the bar.
Matri was replaced by Chelsea goal hero Fabio Quagliarella, but it was Shakhtar who would gain the momentum in the closing stages.
On 73 minutes Darijo Srna's freekick took a deflection off the Juve wall and panicked Buffon, who saved with both hands
Moments later Mkhitaryan's shot went just wide of Buffon's right-hand post after he had been set up nicely by Luiz Adriano.
The visitors spurned a golden chance to snatch the win in injury time when Willian picked up a loose ball in area. Although his shot was blocked, the Brazilian picked up the rebound to hit another shot which came off the post.
Story first published on: Wednesday, 03 October 2012 12:44 IST