Persistent questions about Cristiano Ronaldo saw Portugal coach Fernando Santos reach the end of his tether at his pre-match news conference.

Ronaldo has been substituted in his past two appearances for Juventus and reportedly left the stadium before full-time against AC Milan last time out, as replacement Paulo Dybala struck the winner.

The suggestion Ronaldo was unhappy dominated the agenda as Portugal faced the media on Wednesday, with Ruben Neves insisting his team-mate was "fine".

But Santos was not willing to similarly answer questions on the forward, believing the profile of the player meant too much was being read into the Juventus substitution.

"Everybody wants to talk about Cristiano Ronaldo, everybody wants to give their opinion on Cristiano Ronaldo," he said ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifier against Lithuania.

"Because if this thing [the substitution] was with any other player, nobody would be talking about it. We are only talking about this because it's Cristiano Ronaldo.

"There are millions of players out there and it seems that this only happens to him and maybe another two or three players. To nobody else.

"Cristiano is here, he was called up, he's fine, he'll play, I have no doubts about it. So, for me, there's no issue here."

Santos clearly felt he had made his stance clear, as he replied to the next question on Ronaldo: "Cristiano Ronaldo again? No, sorry, sorry.

"On Cristiano Ronaldo again, I'm talking about Portugal. You are talking to me about Cristiano. Cristiano, no. I won't talk about Cristiano anymore.

"For me, the theme of Cristiano Ronaldo ends here."

Portugal will qualify for next year's European Championship finals if they beat Lithuania while Serbia fail to defeat Luxembourg.

Ruben Neves is not concerned about Cristiano Ronaldo's state of mind for Portugal despite a difficult week at club level with Juventus.

Ronaldo, 34, was substituted in each of Juve's past two matches before the international break and is reported to have left the stadium early when hooked in Sunday's 1-0 win over AC Milan.

Paulo Dybala came on for the Portugal talisman against Milan and went on to score the winner, with Ronaldo visibly annoyed as he headed straight down the tunnel when replaced by the Argentina international.

Juve head coach Maurizio Sarri put Ronaldo's withdrawals down to a bruised knee, though the forward still received criticism for his reaction.

Wojciech Szczesny said Ronaldo's anger was understandable, but he appears to have mellowed since linking up with Portugal.

Speaking ahead of Thursday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Lithuania, Neves said: "Cristiano is fine, had a great training session, as always, and he has a great motivation for the match.

"He's fully prepared for the match. I guess he has no idea of what people are talking about.

"He had a fine training session, as I've already said, so I guess we can expect the Ronaldo we always see in the game tomorrow."

Wolves midfielder Neves has continued to impress this season after catching the eye in the Premier League last term, but it was put to him that he seems more reserved when wearing a Portugal jersey.

He is convinced that is a misconception, however, adamant he feels just as productive for the Selecao as he does for Wolves.

"No, no," Neves said. "We have lots of matches with Wolves. If we compare my number of matches and goals for Wolves and the same for Portugal, the difference won't be big.

"So, I'm focused on helping my national team all the times I'm called up and don't have anything more to say about this."

AC Milan are desperate to add some firepower, but the Serie A side may not be opting for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic, 38, has been linked with a return to San Siro as the superstar prepares to leave LA Galaxy at the end of his contract.

However, Milan are considering their options.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN LOOK ELSEWHERE AMID IBRAHIMOVIC LINKS

AC Milan are eyeing Napoli star Dries Mertens and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, according to Tuttosport.

Stefano Pioli's men are struggling in 14th in Serie A, having scored just 11 goals in 12 league games.

Krzysztof Piatek is Milan's leading goalscorer in the league, but he has managed just three in 12.

The report says Ibrahimovic remains an option in the background.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus stars are expecting an apology from Cristiano Ronaldo after his outburst on Sunday, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. Ronaldo reportedly left the stadium after being substituted in the second half of Juve's 1-0 win over Milan.

- Expect movement at Barcelona in January. Sport reports the LaLiga champions could sell Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Moussa Wague without making any additions. Meanwhile, ESPN FC says Barcelona consider €100million too high a price to pay for Salzburg star Erling Haaland.

- Dani Olmo is still attracting interest from Europe's biggest clubs. CalcioMercato reports the Spanish attacker is ready to leave Dinamo Zagreb, who want €40m amid interest from Manchester City, AC Milan and Roma.

- Amid a lack of playing time at Real Madrid, Brahim Diaz and Mariano have been offered to Espanyol, according to Sport. Brahim has played just 18 LaLiga minutes this season, while Mariano is yet to feature in 2019-20.

- Andrea Belotti is set to re-sign with Torino. The striker – who has scored seven goals in 12 Serie A games this season – will get higher wages and a release clause of €100m, which will apply only for foreign clubs, according to CalcioMercato.

- Inter want to make as many as three signings in January, according to Tuttosport. Second in the Serie A table, one of those additions is set to depend on how much Inter bring in from the sale of Gabriel Barbosa – the forward is on loan at Flamengo.

Cristiano Ronaldo's angry reaction to be substituted against AC Milan is "normal" and he will make the difference in the decisive moments of the season, says Juventus team-mate Wojciech Szczesny.

Portugal forward Ronaldo was hauled off for the second game running when the Bianconeri were chasing a goal and, just as they did against Lokomotiv Moscow in midweek, Juve went on to secure a victory with Paulo Dybala's strike sealing a 1-0 win.

Ronaldo stormed straight down the tunnel after being hooked and is reported to have left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle

Head coach Maurizio Sarri later said Ronaldo is still struggling with a knee injury and insisted he should be thanked for trying to play through the pain barrier.

Ronaldo's angry reaction to being withdrawn suggested he was not entirely happy with Sarri's decision, although it is reported the club will not take any action against their superstar forward.

Goalkeeper Szczesny had sympathy for Ronaldo's reaction, saying: "I think it is normal for a champion to get a little angry when he leaves the field.

"He will return in better physical condition and, as he has always done, will make the difference in the decisive phase of the season.

"In recent weeks he has not trained at 100 per cent, after the international break it will be better. We all know the qualities and personality of Ronaldo."

After the game, Ronaldo posted on Instagram with the caption: "A difficult game, an important win!"

France have called up Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi to replace the injured Blaise Matuidi for this month's final Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Juventus star Matuidi was diagnosed with a rib problem during medical tests in Turin on Monday, having played 70 minutes of Sunday's 1-0 Serie A win over AC Milan.

"The midfielder today underwent an MRI scan, which showed a fracture of the cartilage of the 10th rib," Juve said in a statement.

"I'm unfortunately out of the squad," Matuidi wrote earlier on Twitter.

"But I'm certain that France will get qualification. I'm looking forward to coming back for the next dates."

The French Football Federation confirmed Guendouzi will link up with the squad at Clairefontaine later on Monday.

The reigning world champions will qualify for Euro 2020 from Group H if they beat Moldova in Paris on Thursday, or if Iceland fail to win against Turkey.

"Qualifying has never historically been simple for Les Bleus," head coach Didier Deschamps told reporters on Monday.

"We only took one point from six against Turkey, but the main objective is to qualify.

"It's our goal to finish first, but that's not in our hands anymore because of Turkey. But even if we're first, we wouldn't necessarily be seeded for the draw [for the finals]."

France finish their qualifying campaign with an away game against Albania on November 17.

Maurizio Sarri said he is "not worried" about the knee problem that contributed to Cristiano Ronaldo's second-half substitution against AC Milan on Sunday.

Ronaldo was taken off with the Serie A result still in the balance for the second game in succession and the Juve superstar appeared frustrated with the decision.

The 34-year-old forward jogged straight down the tunnel and reportedly left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle in Turin.

His replacement, Paulo Dybala, later produced an excellent goal to secure Juve a 1-0 victory over struggling Milan.

Ronaldo had underperformed in his 55 minutes on the pitch, leading Sarri to explain the nature of his injury issue.

"He was hit in a training session. He suffered a knee bruise. Maybe the right knee, if I remember correctly," the Bianconeri head coach said.

"It's not a big issue, no twist, only a bruise at the collateral ligament. When he steps he can't push as usual, but I am not worried about it."

Sarri's withdrawal of Ronaldo when three points were up for grabs mirrored the move he made in the midweek Champions League win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

The former Real Madrid man's failure to reappear on the bench attracted criticism from ex-Juve coach Fabio Capello.

"The fact that he didn't sit on the bench and said bad words to Sarri is not a pretty picture," Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

"One must be a champion even when he is replaced, not only when things are going well. Right now, Dybala is in great shape.

"The truth is that Ronaldo has not dribbled past an opponent for three years. I remember it when he went past players and left them there. Now it doesn't happen anymore, while Douglas Costa and Dybala do it.

"If I had been in Sarri's place I would have reproached him in the changing room. I would have told him that he must have respect for his team-mates and if I take him off it is because I want to try to win the game."

Dybala's intervention means Juve remain a point ahead of Serie A title rivals Inter going into the international break.

Blaise Matuidi could be forced to pull out of the France squad following further medical assessment on a suspected rib fracture, Sarri confirmed.

Maurizio Sarri has no qualms with Cristiano Ronaldo's frustrations at being substituted and says Juventus must thank the superstar forward for attempting to play through the pain barrier.

Eyebrows were raised when Ronaldo was withdrawn after 55 minutes of Sunday's 1-0 Serie A win over AC Milan with his replacement Paulo Dybala scoring the winner in Turin.

It came just five days after Ronaldo was substituted with eight minutes remaining against Lokomotiv Moscow and in need of a goal, which eventually arrived from Douglas Costa deep into injury time of the Champions League clash.

Ronaldo gave a sulky reaction on that occasion and headed straight down the tunnel when brought off against struggling Italian rivals Milan.

Juve head coach Sarri again insisted Ronaldo – who reportedly left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle – is struggling with a knee injury that is affecting his performance and believes his frustrated reactions are a result of that.

"We must thank Ronaldo, because he made a sacrifice to be there at all tonight in a difficult situation," Sarri told Sky Sport Italia.

"He did everything possible to play, but I saw he was not well and thought it best to take him off.

"It's only natural a player is going to be irritated to leave the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there. 

"Over the last month, he has had this little knee problem, he had a knock in training and it hurt the collateral ligament. 

"When he trains at high intensity or plays, it unbalances him, so he ends up overcompensating and it damages the calf and thigh muscles.

"It is affecting his performances and he is not at his best at the moment. All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would in general be much more worried if he didn't seem upset."

In isolation, scrappy wins over Lokomotiv Moscow and AC Milan in the space of five days hardly scream significant moments in Juventus' season.

But it is the bold measure taken by Maurizio Sarri to achieve those victories that make this week seem particularly important in the wider picture for the Bianconeri and their legendary forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Needing a goal against Lokomotiv in midweek with the score locked at 1-1, Sarri made the audacious call to hook Ronaldo in the 82nd minute.

Juve huffed and puffed and finally blew the door down thanks to Douglas Costa in the third minute of added time.

After the game, Sarri insisted he made the decision because Ronaldo had been suffering with a knee injury in the build-up, a line he repeated after Sunday's game. The hunched shoulders, sullen face and refusal to shake his coach's hand suggested it was a decision that did not have the approval of the Portugal captain. 

It was an infinitely more drastic call against Milan on Sunday. Spare for a decent disguised pass into the area for Gonzalo Higuain and a long-range effort shortly before half-time, it was unquestionably another subdued performance from Ronaldo, who stormed straight down the tunnel after being withdrawn.

But to haul off one of the greatest goalscorers of all time after 55 minutes with your team needing a goal is brave at best, reckless at worst.

And yet, Sarri's decision was again entirely justified as Ronaldo's replacement Paulo Dybala jinked and weaved his way through the Milan defence and coolly picked out the bottom-left corner with 13 minutes left to play to seal a 1-0 victory.

What feels so pertinent about all this is the way Sarri is considering ordinary decisions for a player who throughout his career has been out of the ordinary.

It is worlds apart from the Sarri we saw nine months ago during the EFL Cup final, where his then Chelsea side were eventually beaten on penalties by Manchester City.

On that occasion, Sarri's authority was left in tatters by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's shocking act of insubordination when he seemingly refused to be substituted at Wembley.

The sight of a seething Sarri trudging down the tunnel, only to return to the dugout moments later was an uncomfortable one.

Perhaps that moment has instilled in Sarri a take-no-prisoners attitude that even a player of Ronaldo's history and calibre cannot escape. Perhaps he genuinely, and justifiably from the fact they won both games, felt others were more capable of earning his team the result. 

What is certain, is that none of Ronaldo's coaches during his record-breaking days at Real Madrid, regardless of personal relationship, would have had the nerve to make such calls.

Ronaldo has clashed with coaches who boast far superior records to the one major honour Sarri has won in his career and one wonders how long he is willing to accept being the fall guy if Juve continue struggling to fire.

But the fact remains whether you consider Sarri to be inspired, brave or reckless, ultimately the decision to replace Ronaldo in two straight games with his side chasing a goal has proven to be the right one.

And that absolutely seems like a significant moment.

Stefano Pioli rued AC Milan's profligacy in the 1-0 defeat to Juventus, especially given he felt his side "were at least on a par" with the Serie A leaders.

Milan put in one of their better performances of the season at Allianz Stadium but a mixture of questionable finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Wojciech Szczesny proved the Rossoneri's undoing as substitute Paulo Dybala scored a 77th-minute winner.

Head coach Pioli was unable to hide his frustration and urged Milan to be more clinical following Sunday's loss in Turin.

"We were at least on a par with our opponents, if not more, but if you don't turn those chances into goals, you are going to pay," Pioli, whose side are 14th, told Sky Sport Italia in quotes reported by Football Italia.

"We've got to keep working and improving. Our current position is unworthy of Milan and that must keep us worried and concentrated at all times.

"Unfortunately, it's the same thing I said last Sunday after Lazio, which is that we had the opportunities and I don't think many have 15 shots on goal the way we did at the Juventus Stadium, but we need to convert more of them.

"We also conceded a goal when we should've been tighter in our defending and marking. I can only underline that the performance is good, but we need the results too. We have to improve our position in the table, it's time to take some punches and work hard.

"I see improvements every day, I saw them in recent matches, as we were by no means inferior to Lazio or Juventus. We must understand that at this level, every single ball can be decisive.

"We haven't had as many points as we expected, nor as many as we probably deserved lately, but the performances have been there."

Paulo Dybala vindicated Maurizio Sarri's decision to introduce him for the underwhelming Cristiano Ronaldo as the Argentina international clinched underwhelming Juventus a slender 1-0 win over AC Milan on Sunday.

Sarri's men were well below par for the visit of Stefano Pioli's Milan and Ronaldo was no different, as the Portugal star failed to inspire an Old Lady attack that looked bereft of creative ingenuity until matchwinner Dybala replaced the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Belying the form table, Milan looked considerably more fluent and inventive in attack during the opening 45 minutes, but questionable finishing and a wonderful save from Wojciech Szczesny prevented them going into half-time ahead.

Juve remained short of ideas going forward initially in the second period and that resulted in the withdrawal of Ronaldo – who was also hooked in the Champions League against Lokomotiv Moscow.

While the Portugal captain looked utterly unimpressed as he headed straight down the tunnel, Dybala made the difference late on with a fine goal to retain Juve's status as Serie A pacesetters.

Milan should have taken the lead with 18 minutes on the clock, but Krzysztof Piatek miscued his header from Suso's excellent delivery from deep, before Szczesny thwarted Lucas Paqueta's nodded effort.

It took Ronaldo until the 42nd minute to threaten the Milan goal, but his 25-yard strike was easily kept out by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Sarri's response to Juve's ineffectiveness in front of goal was to withdraw Ronaldo for Dybala before the hour, while Douglas Costa – the hero in Wednesday's 2-1 win in Moscow – came on soon after.

The Brazilian went as close as any of his team-mates with a 30-yard strike that Donnarumma stopped, before Blaise Matuidi curled just off target.

But fittingly it was Dybala who got the decisive goal, as he played a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain on the edge of the box and then swept home right-footed 13 minutes from time, confirming an undeserved defeat for Milan, who have not won at Juve since March 2011.

What does it mean? Juve remain top as Ronaldo's mortality becomes clear

Inter's 2-1 comeback win against Hellas Verona put Antonio Conte's men top and that looked to be where they would stay until after the international break before Dybala's strike.

But arguably more signficant than the result is Ronaldo's status in the squad. Having spent much of his career as an untouchable, that no longer appears to be the case.

Szczesny gives Juve a hand

While Dybala was undoubtedly vital to victory, it is fair to say Juve owe much thanks to Szczesny in goal. The Poland international was dependable on every occasion and had he not been at this level Milan probably would have won.

Ronaldo fades into the background

With just one shot and a single key pass to show for his efforts, there is no doubt Ronaldo was not missed when he made way. Suddenly the hosts had more energy and impetus in attack, not usually something one could say about a team that hooks Ronaldo.

What's next?

After the international break, Juve face a tricky trip to Serie A's most prolific team Atalanta, while Milan host Napoli and former Rossoneri boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Maurizio Sarri is hopeful Cristiano Ronaldo will feature for Juventus against AC Milan, though conceded the forward may miss out with a knee problem.

Ronaldo was substituted off with eight minutes of normal time remaining in Wednesday's Champions League meeting with Lokomotiv Moscow, as Gonzalo Higuain's last-gasp effort secured a 2-1 win.

Juve return to Serie A action against struggling Milan, who sit 12th - with new coach Stefano Pioli having managed just one win from four matches in charge.

Asked for an update on Ronaldo's fitness on Saturday, Sarri revealed he is still uncertain if the former Real Madrid star - who has six goals in all competitions this season - will be able to play.

"How is Ronaldo? I still don't know, because yesterday he was with the physiotherapists and we will see today and tomorrow in the last training session," Sarri told a news conference.

"Let's see what he can do. He feels a little pain in his knee but it is nothing serious."

Ronaldo looked set to open the scoring for Juve in midweek when his free-kick squirmed out of Lokomotiv goalkeeper Guilherme's grasp, only for Aaron Ramsey to ensure the ball went over the line.

It brought up Juve's 300th Champions League goal, as well as marking a second strike of the season for Ramsey, who has been restricted to eight appearances.

Sarri, however, is looking forward to having what he sees as a crucial player more readily available.

"He has important technical qualities and can do both the roles I ask," Sarri said of Ramsey.

"He can be a modern midfielder. He can be an offensive midfielder, as an attacking midfielder he can also give cover."

Sarri has previously aired his frustrations with some profligate finishing from Juve this term, but the ex-Chelsea coach has been pleased with his side's ability to push for late winners.

"The fact is that the team is still unable to close out games," Sarri said. "The strength, however, is that until the end we go to look for the victory and often we succeed.

"Milan is a good team, which did not make a good start to the season. In football there are cycles; rebuilding to get back to a very high level is not easy. Milan have many young players and they are laying the foundations for an important future." 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "great player" but Stefano Pioli is unsure if the striker will return to AC Milan.

The 38-year-old's contract with MLS side LA Galaxy expires at the end of the year and he has been linked with a move back to European football.

MLS commissioner Don Garber claimed this week Ibrahimovic is "being recruited" by Milan, where he spent two seasons before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.

Milan have been tipped to strengthen their squad in January following a poor start to the campaign, but Pioli was unwilling to confirm Ibrahimovic is a target.

"Ibra is a great player," he told a news conference on Saturday. "But the January market is far away. There will be time to make assessments."

Milan have won one of their four matches under Pioli, who was brought in to replace Marco Giampaolo last month.

The 18-time Serie A champions are in the bottom half of the table after 11 matches and travel to Juventus on Sunday.

Despite the 16-point gap to champions Juve, however, Pioli has full faith in his players and is relishing the chance to pick up a potentially season-defining result.

"I trust my players, even if the table says we are far away from Juventus," he said. 

"Matches start from 0-0, 11 players against 11. It's a great challenge, but the big challenges also mean having a great opportunity.

"Talking about turning points is always difficult. It is clear that on a mental level, doing well tomorrow would mean a lot for us. 

"It's a difficult challenge but a great opportunity, one that we need to be ready to fight for."

Ronaldo has failed to find the net in three of his past four outings, but Pioli is well aware of the Juve forward's capabilities.

"It is difficult to say how to stop him," he said. "He has many chances to hurt teams. We are talking about a phenomenon, a champion.

"Against him we must be much more careful and determined, giving him little space to work in. He is among the best players ever, alongside [Lionel] Messi, Pele and [Diego] Maradona."

Franck Kessie, Samu Castillejo, Mateo Musacchio and Fabio Borini are all out of Milan's squad to face Juve, but Suso returns after missing the 2-1 loss to Lazio last weekend.

Paris Saint-Germain have identified their priorities and an extension for Neymar is seemingly not among them.

Neymar, 27, reportedly almost left the Ligue 1 champions in the close season amid strong links to LaLiga giants Barcelona.

The Brazil international is contracted until 2022 and PSG appear to be in no rush to extend his stay.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STOP NEYMAR TALKS AMID MBAPPE FOCUS

PSG's negotiations with Neymar about a contract extension have stalled, according to L'Equipe.

However, the report says PSG have not ruled out a potential extension for Neymar in the future.

It comes amid talk the club are eager to re-sign Kylian Mbappe, who is also contracted until 2022 and has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.

 

ROUND-UP

- Like Neymar and Mbappe, the talk around Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba will not go away. Sport reports Juventus want to bring the midfielder back to Turin, while Tuttosport says Pogba is also eager to return to the Serie A giants.

- Ivan Rakitic has made just one start for Barcelona this season and the midfielder could be on the move in January. Mundo Deportivo reports Juventus and Inter have the Croatia international – who is contracted at Camp Nou until 2021 – in their sights.

- Nicolo Zaniolo's impressive performances for Roma are leading to renewed interest in his services. Juventus are ready to pay more than €40million for the midfielder, according to CalcioMercato, although Roma are eager to keep Zaniolo, who has scored three Serie A goals this season.

- Unai Emery is under fire at Arsenal and the Premier League club are already eyeing his replacement. Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is being earmarked for the job at Emirates Stadium, according to The Sun.

- Staying at Arsenal and AC Milan are considering a €40m (£34.5m) move for midfielder Lucas Torreira in January, according to Fichajes.com. Meanwhile, Turkish-Football reports Arsenal have made contact with the representatives of Juventus defender Merih Demiral about a potential move.

- Alessandro Florenzi could make a move from Roma in January, according to CalcioMercato. Fiorentina and Inter are reportedly interested in the right-back.

Douglas Costa revealed Maurizio Sarri told him just "to enjoy the game" before he came on and scored the winner that sent Juventus into the Champions League last 16.

The Bianconeri booked their spot in the knockout phase with a 2-1 win at Lokomotiv Moscow, though they needed a brilliant 93rd-minute goal from Costa to get the three points required.

Aaron Ramsey put Juventus ahead in the third minute - poking in on the line after goalkeeper Guilherme had spilled Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick back towards his goal - but Aleksey Miranchuk soon cancelled out the Wales international's opener.

Ronaldo was frustrated in his attempts to break a Champions League record by scoring against a 34th different opponent, yet Costa was able to find a way through, weaving through some desperate tackles and slotting a finish between Guilherme's legs following a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain.

Asked by UEFA.com what Sarri had said to him before he came on with 20 minutes to go, Costa replied: "He said I just have to enjoy the game and help my team-mates to the victory. I did that."

It was Costa's first goal since January, with injury problems restricting the 29-year-old to only four Serie A starts since January.

"It was a really hard game but we played very well," added the former Shakhtar Donetsk winger.

"It is very cold here but my team-mates were amazing. We kept calm and in the end we scored the second goal.

"I played a lot of years in Ukraine. I was ready for this game.

"This was a really important game because I have been out for a long time but I have come back and helped the team."

It was far from a vintage performance by Juventus, summed up by Ronaldo failing to score from any of his eight shots - as was the case the previous time Juventus played Lokomotiv.

Yet captain Leonardo Bonucci, who cleared off his own line before Costa's winner, was pleased with the spirit his side showed.

"I think our team adapts well to the kind of football that is needed in every situation," the defender said.

"We play the football our coach loves most of the time but we are also ready to suffer together when we have to."

Lokomotiv came away empty-handed and former Juventus loanee Benedikt Howedes admitted it was a moment of magic from Costa that proved to be the difference.

"The goal was because of the individual quality that Douglas Costa has," he added.

"We deserved more today but sometimes this is the way of football. Sometimes the individual quality wins."

Douglas Costa sent Juventus through to the last 16 of the Champions League with a brilliant 93rd-minute winner in a 2-1 away victory over Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Bianconeri were ahead after just three minutes when Aaron Ramsey nudged the ball over the line after goalkeeper Guilherme had spilled Cristiano Ronaldo's free-kick back towards his goal.

However, Lokomotiv soon hit back through Aleksey Miranchuk and Guilherme denied Ronaldo twice in the second half as the Portuguese attempted to set a Champions League record by scoring against a 34th different team.

It was not to be Ronaldo's night as he was replaced with nine minutes to go, yet Costa stepped up to be the hero, weaving in off the left wing and finishing after a one-two with Gonzalo Higuain.

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