Wednesday December 11 2019
CL: Dybala lights up Juve in Leverkusen

Juventus concluded their Champions League group stage with a joint record 16 points, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain scored on Paulo Dybala assists to beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-0.

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With five wins and a draw, this is the best ever Juve Champions League group stage performance, alongside Marcello Lippi’s team of 1996-97 and Fabio Capello's in 2004-05.

The Bianconeri were already sure of first place in their group, so made several changes, with Sami Khedira, Rodrigo Bentancur, Aaron Ramsey, Douglas Costa and Giorgio Chiellini are injured, while Emre Can is not in their Champions League squad. Juan Cuadrado was given a new midfield role. Bayer Leverkusen made some surprising decisions too, as Nadiem Amiri was suspended, with Mitchell Weiser and Joel Pohjanpalo injured, but still benched Kevin Volland, Leon Bailey, Jonathan Tah and Julian Baumgartlinger.

Gonzalo Higuain had a good opportunity in the opening minutes, but his roll across for Cristiano Ronaldo was over-hit, when he could’ve just gone for goal himself.

Moments later, Moussa Diaby’s scorching strike bounced off the upright to the right of Gigi Buffon.

Ronaldo burst down the right and flashed a dangerous shot across the face of goal, Cuadrado skimming the woodwork from the edge of the box moments later.

Buffon had to be alert with his gloves stung by Karim Bellarabi, while Merih Demiral made a decisive sliding block on Kai Havertz from six yards.

Cristiano Ronaldo had the ball in the net on 51 minutes, his strike bouncing in off the inside of the far post, but he was marginally offside.

Daley Sinkgraven made a crucial interception, as both Ronaldo and Federico Bernardeschi were lining up to tap in Higuain’s pass from six yards.

Sarri had to shake things up, as the tempo was dropping, so introduced Paulo Dybala to create the super-trident with Ronaldo and Higuain.

It paid off, because Juventus took the lead 10 minutes later. The move started with a Mattia De Sciglio nutmeg in midfield, Pjanic released Dybala down the left and he rolled across for Ronaldo to tap in.

Charles Aranguiz had the opportunity to grab a late equaliser, but turned wide from 12 yards off balance after Rugani’s misplaced clearance.

Instead, Juve doubled their lead in stoppages with another Dybala assist. Higuain controlled a long ball over the top, back-heeled it for La Joya and was ready to rifle home the return pass.

The game was twice halted in the final minutes for pitch invaders, who ran on trying to hug Ronaldo.

Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Juventus

Ronaldo 76 (J), Higuain 92 (J)

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky; L Bender, Dragovic, S Bender, Sinkgraven; Bellarabi (Bailey 66), Demirbay (Baumgartlinger 66), Aranguiz, Diaby; Havertz, Alario (Volland 81)

Juventus: Buffon; Danilo, Demiral, Rugani, De Sciglio; Cuadrado (Muratore 93), Pjanic, Rabiot (Matuidi 84); Bernardeschi (Dybala 66); Higuain, Ronaldo

Ref: Bastien (FRA)

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