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The defender fired home with six minutes remaining at the Stade de Gerland to give the Italian champions a precious lead to take back to Turin

Leonardo Bonucci believes his late strike will prove priceless in Juventus’ Europa League quarter-final tie against Olympique Lyonnais.

The Italy defender netted in the 85th minute of a tightly-contested encounter at the Stade de Gerland to earn the Bianconeri a 1-0 win that puts the Italian champions in pole position to qualify for the last four.

“Lyon were so full of energy in the first half and they ran very hard, but in the second we were able to bring home a very important victory,” Bonucci told reporters.

“We performed much better in the second half – early on we struggled to find the right spaces to play our game.”

Kwadwo Asamoah also agreed that Juve stepped it up a gear after the break but indicated his side were finding it tough to cope with the amount of injuries they have at present.

“In the first half we did not produce enough of the movements we had practiced in training,” the wing-back told Sky Sport Italia.

“In the second half we were a lot better when they had the ball and we were not pushed back so much.

“At this moment there are many players out injured, so the rest of us have to work twice as hard and that is not easy.”

Lyon’s Steed Malbranque was frustrated to see his side come so close to earning a goalless draw that would have left the tie beautifully balanced ahead of their trip to Turin.

“It is a real shame,” he said to beIN Sports. “We had a specific game plan in place to try and counter them and it is tough to take when the goal is scored five minutes from the end.

“There is always hope in football. We will have to play the 90 minutes in Turin at 100 per cent and if we can do that, then why can’t we go and create an upset."

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