Paulo Dybala scored a wonderful free-kick to earn Juventus a 1-0 home win over Atletico Madrid that secured top spot in Group D of the Champions League.
Atletico, knocked out by Juve last season, had the better of the first half but moments before the interval Dybala whipped a superb set-piece in from a narrow angle to open the scoring.
Although Joao Felix’s introduction from the bench improved Atletico, it was Juve substitute Federico Bernardeschi who went closest to the game’s second goal when he hit the post on Tuesday.
Juve, who welcomed back Cristiano Ronaldo, were already through but with 13 points Maurizio Sarri’s side now cannot be caught at the summit with Atletico needing a win when the group stage ends next month.
Dybala had an early effort saved by Jan Oblak but Atletico had the better of the opening exchanges with Thomas Partey and Saul Niguez failing to hit the target with decent chances.
Wojciech Szczesny then briefly spilled Saul’s shot only for the goalkeeper to beat Alvaro Morata to the loose ball, however Juve took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Goal of the night?
Stunning free-kick from Dybala! pic.twitter.com/gBeC28nSo7
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 26, 2019
From close to the touchline on the right side of the penalty box, Dybala whipped a superb strike past the wall and across Oblak into the roof of the net.
Joao Felix’s arrival from the bench breathed new life into Atletico’s attack however Juve went close to adding a second when Bernardeschi’s low shot from 20 yards beat Oblak but not the upright.
A difficult day almost got worse for Atletico when Felipe’s challenge on Ronaldo was checked by VAR, the defender avoiding a red card after appearing to stamp on the Portugal superstar.
Atletico should have snatched a draw deep in added time when Morata failed to convert Thomas Lemar’s low cross, though replays suggested the striker was offside anyway.
What does it mean? Atletico have work to do
Juve were already through but have theoretically secured an easier tie in the next round, with Atletico still expected to join them.
They will need to win away to Lokomotiv Moscow, who are already confirmed as finishing bottom of the group, if they are to progress in the competition.
Dybala hot streak continues
Few players would have had the imagination to shoot from the position Dybala fired home a wonderful free-kick, the 10th time he has scored from a set piece for Juve.
The Argentina attacker has found the net three games in a row for Juve and is growing in confidence.
10 – Paulo #Dybala has scored his 10th goal from direct free kick in all competitions with #Juventus, the first since March 2018 (vs Udinese in Serie A). Classy.#JuveAtletico pic.twitter.com/bptywBJpU2
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) November 26, 2019
Morata offers little threat
Diego Costa’s neck injury means Morata will have to lead the line for Atletico in the coming weeks, but the Spain striker struggled to make an impact against a rugged Juve backline led by the excellent Leonardo Bonucci.
Sassuolo visit Juve in Serie A on Sunday, with Atletico hosting Barcelona in a huge LaLiga clash on the same day. The final round of Group D games on December 11 sees Juve go to Bayer Leverkusen, while Atletico are at home to Lokomotiv.
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