Dynamic Dybala drives Juventus to Barcelona victory

Paulo Dybala

TURIN—An inspired performance from Argentinean strike Paulo Dybala propelled Juventus to a 3-0 victory against Catalan giants Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie at the Juventus Stadium.

 The Argentine scored two brilliant first-half goals and caused the Barcelona defence havoc throughout the contest to make Massimo Allegri’s side the favourite to progress to the semi-final stages of the competition.

 Italian international Giorgio Chiellini sealed the first-leg victory when he headed past Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen early in the second-half.

 Juventus started the game very brightly and nearly went ahead inside the first three minutes, but mercurial striker Gonzalo Higuaín could only direct his free header from a free-kick straight at the Ter Stegen. 

 The home side were not made to rue that missed opportunity for long as Dybala opened the scoring on 7 minutes with a superb left foot curler from a tight angle after Juan Cuadrado set him up.

 The nimble Argentine struck again on 22 minutes with another fizzing left footed effort that beat Ter Stegen at his near post. The goal was all the more crucial as minutes earlier, legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon had produced a world-class save to deny Andres Iniesta a Barcelona equaliser.

 Juventus’s energetic first half performance echoed the words of manager Allegri at the press conference on Monday. The Italian stated that Juventus would be bold and come out firing, the 2-0 lead with which they entered the break was certainly testament to this approach.

 Barcelona, five-time winners of the competition, started the second-half at a high tempo, playing the sort of football that we have come to expect from the Catalan giants. However, for all their possession it was the Bianconeri who extended their lead on 55 minutes when Chiellini headed in a third from a corner.

 Juventus maintained a high work-rate for the remaining period of the game and closed out what could be a crucial clean sheet as they head to the Camp Nou with a 3-0 advantage for the return leg on April 19.

 The win means Juventus, who have won their last 32 Serie A home games, extend their run to 18 European games undefeated in Turin.

 The statistics continue to favour the Bianconeri, they haven’t conceded in the last 441 minutes of Champions League football and will be hoping to continue that run as they face the daunting prospect of an away trip to the Camp Nou.

 After the game, Allegri told Italian media that he was incredibly proud of his players.

 "I want to congratulate the lads because, as a team, they did great,” said the Italian.

 "It isn't easy overcoming a team like Barcelona, but we also dug deep to keep a clean sheet. That was fundamental for us.”

 "But we have to remain humble, keep our heads down and keep working. PSG scored four, and look what happened.”

 Tuesday’s other quarter-final between Monaco and Borussia Dortmund was postponed after an explosion outside the Dortmund team bus.

 Former Barcelona man, Marc Bartra, injured his hand in the blast and the game has been postponed to Wednesday afternoon.

jj