UEFA Champions League
Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
Juventus have the upper-hand in their UEFA Champions League Quarter-final tie against Barcelona after defeating the Catalan side 3-0 in the first-leg at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, in what was a repeat of the 2015 Champions League Final, which the Spaniards won 3-1 in Berlin.
A first-half brace from Paulo Dybala gave the Turin-side a 2-0 lead at the break before Giorgio Chiellini’s second-half header sealed a terrific and disciplined first-leg display for the Bianconeri.
The hosts started well and had a good chance to take the lead in the second minute when a Miralem Pjanić freekick was met by Gonzalo Higuaín with a header but his effort was straight at Marc-André Ter Stegen, who gathered the ball at the second-attempt.
Five minutes later the Bianconeri took the lead when Juan Cuadrado found Dybala, who curled the ball home on the turn past Ter Stegen, into the bottom-corner.
In the 20th minute Barcelona should have levelled the scores when Lionel Messi played Andrés Iniesta through on-goal with a fantastic pass, the Barcelona skipper had just Gianluigi Buffon to beat but his effort was tipped wide brilliantly by the veteran keeper.
The visitor were made to rue that missed opportunity as the hosts doubled their lead 76 seconds later through Dybala again. Mario Mandžukić did well to surge forward and pull the ball back to Dybala, who curled home to beat Ter Stegen at his near-post with a powerful effort.
In the 38th minute the visitors went close when a Jérémy Mathieu cross was met by Luis Suárez, whose header was deflected just wide by Chiellini.
Two minutes before the break the hosts went close to a third when Alex Sandro’s pull-back found Higuaín, who chested the ball before firing an effort on the volley that Ter Stegen palmed away.
Barcelona started the second-half in the ascendancy and had a good chance to pull a goal back when Messi fired an effort just wide after Leonardo Bonucci initially made a fine challenge to intercept a through-ball aimed towards Neymar.
Seconds later the hosts went close when Sami Khedira fired an effort just wide from-range.
In the 51st minute the visitors had a good chance when Suárez’s teasing delivery was cleared by Mandžukić into the path of Iniesta, but he fired the loose ball over the bar.
A minute later Juventus went close to a third when Cuadrado surged forward to find Higuaín, whose effort lacked conviction but Ter Stegen made a fine save. Two minutes later the Argentine had another great chance when he was played onside by Sergi Roberto, he had just Ter Stegen to beat but his effort was denied by the keeper. Higuaín had Dybala in support for a tap-in too.
In the 55th minute the Bianconeri made it three when Chiellini met a Pjanić corner to head the ball home via the post.
In the 67th minute the visitors very nearly pulled a goal back when Suárez latched onto a through on-goal from Messi to fire an effort at-goal, but his strike was terrifically tipped onto the post and behind by Buffon.
A minute later the visitors thought they should have had a penalty when Neymar’s effort from the edge of the area struck Bonucci’s arm but the referee was unmoved.
In the fourth minute of injury-time the Catalan side had a good chance to reduce the deficit when a dangerous cross from Neymar was met by Roberto with a header, but his effort was tame and Buffon made a comfortable save.
The result meant that Juventus will take a three-goal lead to Catalonia, which they will look to protect, while Barcelona will need to find three goals without reply to just remain in the tie.