It finished 1-0 to Juventus at the Saint Petersburg Stadium as they finally breached Zenit Saint Petersburg's staunch resistance in Group H.
In a game lacking in many clear-cut chances, the Bianconeri struggled to break down their hosts who held firm in a back-five shape that frustrated Massimiliano Allegri's men for 87 minutes.
The first half's highlights were limited: the best coming from left winger Claudinho, who stung the palms of visiting goalkeeper Wojciech Szceszny with a powerful, dipping effort from range on 18 minutes, and European Championship hero Federico Chiesa had three sightings of goal that he should've done better with as both sides' left wingers looked the brightest of a dull bunch.
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After the restart, the tempo improved, yet there was no real improvement in chances created.
A Claudinho attempt that went well wide was the closest the home side would come, although Dmitri Chistyakov tested Szceszny with a flicked header from a corner just before the break.
American international Weston McKennie would be dangerous with his bending runs in behind the defence, and on numerous occasions he had headed opportunities. He came particularly close on 74 minutes, guiding a clipped cross just wide.
The little Brazilian Claudinho would continue to be the game's brightest spark: trying his luck from range a few more times before the game's end, with the match fizzling out.
But, three minutes from time, super-sub Dejan Kulusevski popped up, glancing Mattia de Sciglio's inswinging cross back across Stan Kritsyuk and into the far corner to give Juve the victory.
Improvements must be made from both sides in the next matchdays to come. Juventus still lead the group - they maintain their 100% record - but they must be better when they travel to Stamford Bridge.

Weston McKennie, Zenit-Juventus, Getty Images

Image credit: Eurosport

TALKING POINT - JUVE LACKLUSTRE, MISSING THEIR MAIN MAN?

Granted, they were up against a compact back five in a partisan atmosphere, but one would expect a side with the personnel quality of Juventus to create more chances than they did.
That could well have been down to the absence of Paulo Dybala.
The Argentinian playmaker was a sore miss, with his decoy runs from deep, his orchestration and vision for that penetrative pass all things that could have ensured a much more comfortable scoreline for Allegri and his side.
Manuel Locatelli and Arthur when he came on tried their best to dictate play from deeper positions, and Federico Bernadeschi was disappointing off the right.
Chiesa was lively but faded, and he was particularly poor with his finishing; wasting at least three decent opportunities to get his name on the scoresheet.
Regardless, the Italians have won the game and remain in the driving seat of the group. Dybala can't have been that much of a miss.

Juventus' Swedish forward Dejan Kulusevski celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League football match between Zenit St. Petersburg and Juventus in Saint Petersburg on October 20, 2021. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA

Image credit: Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH - CLAUDINHO, ZENIT

A man undeserving of being on the losing side.
He gave his all on and off the ball; the home side's brightest creative spark, brightening in the second half when the Russians began to look flat and tired.
He didn't quite have his shooting boots on today, but had he, we could well be speaking about a different result.
He teased Mattia de Sciglio with his tricky dribbling and thorny positioning in the pockets between the lines, and showed why Zenit aren't all just about his compatriot Malcom on the right flank.

PLAYER RATINGS

Zenit: Krisyuk 6, Karavaev 6, Chistyakov 6, Lovren 6, Rakitskiy 7, Santos 6, Barrios 6, Wendel 6, Malcom 6, Dzyuba 5, Claudinho 7*, Subs: Azmoun 6, Sutormin 6, Kuzyaev 6, Krugovoy 6, Yerokhin 6.
Juventus: Szceszny 6, De Sciglio 6, Bonucci 6, De Ligt 6, Sandro 6, Mckennie 6, Locatelli 6, Bentancur 6, Chiesa 6, Morata 5, Bernadeschi 5, Subs: Cuadrado 6, Kulusevski 7, Arthur 6, Kean 6, Ramsey 6.

KEY MOMENTS

18: CLOSE! Bernadeschi slips... it comes to Malcom, who feeds Claudinho from range! Szceszny makes the save. First real sighting of goal for either side.
44': CLOSE! Corner met by Christyakov! Held by Szceszny.
52': Claudinho... Alex Sandro missed it... Malcom... looks for his compatriot again! Good covering block from De Ligt.
87': GOAL!!!! Kulusevski! Finally! Bonucci switched the ball brilliantly to de Sciglio, and the Swede glances it back across the goalkeeper for 1-0.

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