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Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2017

Paulo Dybala netted twice as Juventus took control of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie against Barcelona with a 3-0 first-leg win at the Juventus Stadium on Tuesday.

The hosts dominated from the off and were 2-0 ahead in the first 22 minutes thanks to left-footed strikes from Dybala.

A brilliant header from Giorgio Chiellini made it 3-0 early in the second half, and although Barca dominated possession and sporadically looked dangerous going forward, they were second best throughout and could not find an away goal.

Barcelona will now need a comeback performance to match the one they produced against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 if they are to make the final four after the second leg at the Camp Nou on April 19. 

Squawka provided both lineups ahead of kick-off:


Juventus started with obvious intent, barely allowing Barca into their half in the opening exchanges.

Gonzalo Higuain arguably should have put Juve a goal up in the third minute, but he could only aim his header from Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick straight at Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Four minutes later Dybala did put the hosts ahead.

He received the ball in the box from Juan Cuadrado, turned brilliantly and curled home a left-footed finish.

Per the Times‘ Martyn Ziegler, while it was a fine strike from the Argentina international, Barcelona were culpable for some lax defending:


Having been completely dominated early on, Barca started to come into the game after going 1-0 down. Only a brilliant Gianluigi Buffon save denied Andres Iniesta levelling from close range after a pinpoint Lionel Messi ball in the 22nd minute.

But from the Old Lady’s subsequent attack, Dybala made it 2-0, per Italian football writer Paolo Bandini:


BT Sport Football provided footage of the goal as the 23-year-old striker swept home from the edge of the box, Barca again at fault for allowing him far too much space:


On the half hour, Lionel Messi put the ball in the net after robbing the ball from Sami Khedira and exchanging passes with Luis Suarez, but it was correctly ruled out for offside. 

Barca dominated the early proceedings of the second half as they looked to get back in the tie, and Juve looked happy to let the visitors come at them.

Messi and Iniesta both saw chances go begging in the eight minutes after the break, but further decent opportunities for Higuain proved Barcelona were still vulnerable at the back.

Chiellini’s goal in the 55th minute came after Juve’s first spell of pressure in the second half and was a bullet header from a corner that rolled home off the inside of the post.

Per Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl, the veteran Italian defender did very well to shake off an over-eager Javier Mascherano to deal potentially the killer blow in the tie:


Unsurprisingly, Juventus then sat back to protect their lead, and Barca had their chances in the final 35 minutes, with Suarez and Neymar both going close.

There was some tension from the home crowd as Barcelona pushed forward late on, but in the end Juve saw out the victory fairly comfortably and took a huge step towards the semi-finals.

 

Post-Match Reaction

Despite Juve’s convincing win Pjanic insisted afterwards that the tie is far from over, citing Barca’s recent heroics against PSG, per BT Sport (via BBC Sport’s Gary Rose):


Of course we are very happy but it is not finished yet. We know what they did against Paris and we have to not do that.

We will see in the second game. The team in this first game played very well but we have to be careful. Barcelona have great players and we have to play the same game—try and score a goal. It is not finished, this is just the first half.

Barca manager Luis Enrique, meanwhile, bemoaned his side’s lack of fortune and described the match as a “nightmare,” per Rose: “On nightmare days like this one we have not had that touch of luck to get us back into the tie.”



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