Two-goal Dybala upstages Messi as Juve stun BarcaArchive
TURIN: Paulo Dybala said last week he doesn’t want to be known as the new Lionel Messi.
On Tuesday, the Argentine proved he can be just as good as his more famous compatriot, scoring two exquisitely-taken goals to set Juventus on the way to an emphatic 3-0 win over an underwhelming Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Dybala, who was given a standing ovation when he was substituted nine minutes from time, fired Juve ahead in the seventh minute and added the second goal in the 22nd while defender Giorgio Chiellini headed in the third early in the second half in another rousing Juve performance.
It could have been worse for Barca as Gonzalo Higuain, usually Juve’s most dangerous marksman, missed two chances that he would usually have snapped up.
“I’m really happy because since I was a kid I wanted to experience these moments,” the 23-year-old Dybala said. “It’s one of my best nights, but we mustn’t ruin it next Wednesday.”
The result will give Juve plenty of confidence heading into the second leg on April 19, but they will be wary of another fantastic comeback from Messi’s Barca, who made history when they overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris St Germain in the last 16 by winning the return 6-1.
“The sensation is that we are living through another nightmare,” said irate Barca coach Luis Enrique. “We gave away two goals in the first half and against a team like Juventus you pay for it. As a coach it’s very difficult to explain, Juventus were superior to us in every way. I’m responsible 101 percent ... [and] I don’t want to talk about a comeback.”
But he added: “Certainly, if we get back to our level we can score four goals against anyone.”
The other first-leg match between Borussia Dortmund and Monaco was called off and rescheduled for Wednesday after three explosions went off near the German team’s bus as they set off for the match, injuring defender Marc Bartra.
Barca had 65 percent of the possession but were strangely ponderous in midfield and leaky at the back, where they could not cope with the pace and aggression of Mario Mandzukic or Juan Cuadrado on the flanks.
Juve last met the Spanish giants when they lost 3-1 in the 2015 final, but here they ran them ragged and nullified the visitors’ front three of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
But Barca’s feat against PSG means Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri is not getting carried away.
“I want to congratulate the lads because, as a team, they did great,” said Allegri. “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 need to keep our feet on the ground and keep working because we still haven’t achieved anything. PSG scored four, and look what happened.
“It’s not over, we’ll need to play with bravery again ... but we know the weaknesses of Barcelona and also our strengths.”
BUFFON THWARTS INIESTA
The match pitted Chiellini against Barcelona forward Luis Suarez for the first time since the infamous incident at the 2014 World Cup when the Uruguayan bit the Italian defender.
Juve, unbeaten at home in a European tie for four years, went straight on to the attack and Higuain wasted their first chance after three minutes with a poor close-range header from Miralem Pjanic’s cross.
They needed another four minutes to go ahead when Cuadrado found Dybala — nicknamed ‘La Joya’ (The Jewel) — who cleverly turned and curled a left-foot shot past Marc Andre ter Stegen.
It took Barca until 21 minutes to threaten, but Gianluigi Buffon denied Andres Iniesta with a great one-handed save after he had been picked out by a superb Messi pass.
Buffon pumped his fist in defiance, and he was pumping both in celebration moments later when Dybala met Mandzukic’s low cross in his stride to beat Ter Stegen inside the near post with another left-foot effort.
Barca thought they had pulled a goal back on the half hour, but Messi’s strike was ruled out as Suarez had strayed offside.
They made a more promising start to the second half as Messi rolled one effort wide from the edge of the area and Iniesta then fired wide.
Juve were not finished, though, and, after Higuain squandered another chance by delaying too long over his shot, Chiellini outjumped Javier Mascherano at the far post to head in from a corner for the third in the 55th minute.
It was his second goal in the competition and first since October 2009 when his header secured the points against Maccabi Haifa in Turin.
Suarez almost got a crucial away goal for Barcelona in the 67th but his effort hit the outside of the left post.
Barca should have had a penalty, moments later, when Chiellini handled the ball in the area but nothing was given.
Juve also had reason to feel aggrieved by refereeing decisions, as Cuadrado had a goal ruled out for offside — but television replays indicated it should have been allowed.
However, Dybala had already scored the decisive goals, a day after Italian daily La Repubblica had quoted him as saying in an interivew: “There is only one Messi, like [Diego] Maradona. No one has ever told me that I am his heir.”
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2017