By Rex Gowar
MILAN (Reuters) - A Gonzalo Higuain header against the crossbar was the closest Juventus came to breaking the deadlock in their Champions League Group H opener against Sevilla in Turin on Wednesday.
Sami Khedira, playing his 50th Champions league match and fifth for Juve, had two chances, both laid on by Paulo Dybala, to put Juventus ahead in the opening quarter of an hour.
However, the Germany midfielder was wide with the first and shot weakly into the arms of Sergio Rico for the second.
The busy Dybala also had an opening of his own in the 30th minute from a layoff by Higuain but Rico, who time and again kept Sevilla in the match, came out of the box sharply to clear the danger.
"Sevilla had a great match, we knew how to compete and adapt at all times to the demands of the game," Rico was quoted as saying by Mundo Deportivo.
Sergio Escudero had Sevilla’s only effort on target in the 27th minute but Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who had little to do all night, dealt with it easily.
The night's clearest chance fell just before the hour to Higuain, who headed a Dani Alves cross on to the bar.
"In the first half it was a difficult match, they kept possession a lot and we had trouble imposing our game," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was quoted as saying in Gazzetta dello Sport.
"In the second we had several chances and gave nothing away. It's disappointing not to have won but there are still points (to qualify)."
Juventus seemed happy at first to allow Sevilla the greater share of possession and hit them on the break. But they gradually took control and almost all the danger in a match of few chances came from the home side, with Rico making a fine save from substitute Alex Sandro in the final minute.
Europa League holders Sevilla lacked punch up front although substitute Joaquin Correa gave Juventus a scare in the 66th minute with a fine solo run and shot that was just wide.
A minute later Rico cut out a low cross from Alves to Dybala, who had looked set to score, as Juve increased the pressure on the visitors in the final stages.
Sevilla next host Olympique Lyonnais, who beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 to top the group, on Sept. 27 while Juventus travel to Zagreb.
(Writing by Rex Gowar, editing by Neil Robinson)