A moment of sheer Paulo Dybala magic allowed Juventus to beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 and lock down top spot in their Champions League group.
The Bianconeri were already qualified for the Round of 16, but this was a head-to-head for top spot in the group. Cristiano Ronaldo returned after he was rested at the weekend, sending Gonzalo Higuain to the bench, while Aaron Ramsey took the trequartista role. Matthijs de Ligt started despite dislocating his shoulder on Saturday, as Douglas Costa, Alex Sandro, Adrien Rabiot and Giorgio Chiellini were injured. Atleti had Joao Felix back after a dislocated ankle for his first start since October 19, partnering ex-Juventus striker Alvaro Morata.
These sides famously clashed last season, Ronaldo’s hat-trick overturning a first leg defeat for a 3-0 home victory.
Dybala completed a give-and-go with Ramsey to test Jan Oblak, as Juve seemed to be focusing on quick one-touch football, something we’ve seen precious little of from Maurizio Sarri.
Saul Niguez turned a free header surprisingly off target, then Wojciech Szczesny spilled his daisy-cutter, only to scramble it back under control before a tap-in.
Dybala was eager to show his skills and a sensational back-heel flick forced Mario Hermoso into a bookable offence to stop him.
The deadlock was broken thanks to a moment of sheer magic from La Joya. Rodrigo Bentancur earned a free kick on the outside edge of the box, at the by-line. It seemed impossible to score from that angle, but Dybala steered his free kick into the far top corner to stun Oblak.
After the restart, Saul Niguez’s chest and half-volley on a corner was straight at Szczesny, while Joao Felix drilled wide, but substitute Federico Bernardeschi’s low strike from the edge of the box bounced off the base of the near post with Oblak beaten.
Atletico Madrid started to increase the pressure as the game went on and Angel Correa seemed certain to score when sent clear by Joao Felix, but De Ligt came sliding in like a train to take it off his foot with a last-ditch tackle.
There was a scare deep into stoppages, as Alvaro Morata failed to tap in a ball flashed across the six-yard box, but he seemed to be offside anyway.
Juventus 1-0 Atletico Madrid
Dybala 45 (J)
Juventus: Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, De Ligt, De Sciglio; Bentancur (Khedira 86), Pjanic, Matuidi; Ramsey (Bernardeschi 63); Cristiano Ronaldo, Dybala (Higuain 75)
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Renan Lodi (Lemar 64); Saul Niguez, Herrera (Correa 60), Thomas, Koke; Morata, Vitolo (Joao Felix 53)
Ref: Taylor (ENG)
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