Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Argentina forward Paulo Dybala scored a delightful first-half double to eclipse illustrious compatriot Lionel Messi as Juventus recorded a stunning 3-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Dybala netted twice before the midway point in the first half and Giorgio Chiellini added the third goal early in the second half in Turin to leave Juve in control of the tie ahead of next Wednesday’s return at the Camp Nou.
Having made history when they overturned a 4-0 first-leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 by winning the return 6-1, Barcelona will need another stunning comeback if they are to reach the last four.
“We basically gifted two goals to Juventus in the opening half, and as the coach, for me, that’s unexplainable,” said irate Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.
“It’s like a nightmare. We’ve had very little luck of late, and now I can only hope that from tomorrow we get back on our feet.”
Juventus 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 have to remain humble, keep our heads down and keep working. PSG scored four, and look what happened.”
A Sami Khedira effort in the opening minutes went well over, but it was a sign of things to come in a great opening half for the hosts that saw 23-year-old Dybala — nicknamed ‘La Joya’ (The Jewel) — sparkle.
Juve’s seventh-minute opener was a work of simplicity finished off by a Dybala master stroke.
Juan Cuadrado was the provider on the right flank, setting up Dybala who turned 12 yards out and curled a left-footed shot inside the far post, beyond the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
– Buffon thwarts Iniesta –
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 Mario Mandzukic’s ball in from the left to sweep a first-time shot inside Ter Stegen’s near post to make it 2-0.