Kulusevski scores late as perfect Juventus beats Zenit 1-0

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Substitute Dejan Kulusevski scored late as Juventus won 1-0 at Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday to preserve its perfect start to the Champions League.

Kulusevski headed in the only goal of the match four minutes from time as Juventus added to its wins against Malmo and Chelsea.

“I’m very happy for the team and for myself, it’s my first goal in the Champions League,” said Kulusevski, who was brought on in the 58th minute. “It’s a very important win for the team. I tried to make the difference when I came on but it was very difficult at the beginning. But the ball can come to you at ay time. I was ready at the right moment.”

Juventus remained atop Group H. Massimiliano Allegri’s team is three points above Chelsea, which beat Malmo 4-0 in the other group match. Zenit is six points behind Juventus with Malmo on zero points.

“In two weeks we could be playing to qualify for the next round, but we didn’t have a good performance today,” Allegri said. “We were slow and we made a lot of mistakes.”

Juventus was full of confidence coming into the game as it was unbeaten in its previous seven matches. It has yet to concede in the Champions League after three games.

There were few chances in a tame first half, where neither goalkeeper had much to do.

Zenit had the best opportunity in the 18th minute when Malcom profited from a slip from Juventus winger Federico Bernardeschi to feed Claudinho but his fierce effort was parried by Wojciech Szczęsny.

Juventus had its first shot on target six minutes into the second half when Weston McKennie sprung the offside trap on Álvaro Morata’s pass but the United States midfielder fired straight at the onrushing Stanislav Kritsyuk.

Juventus was almost made to pay for that missed opportunity moments later as Zenit broke quickly but some great defending from Bianconeri captain Leonardo Bonucci saw him slide in to block Claudinho’s effort.

McKennie had another good chance in the 74th but he headed a tantalizing cross from Mattia De Sciglio wide of the post.

Just as it appeared as it if it was going to end goalless in Russia, De Sciglio — who was celebrating his 29th birthday — whipped in another cross from the left and this time Kulusevski headed it into the far side of the net.

It was Juve’s fourth successive 1-0 win.

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