Juventus sealed their place in the Last 16 of the Champions League as a Paulo Dybala brace led them to a 4-2 win over Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday night.
Paulo Dybala once again stole the show, bagging a wonderful brace and an assist to cap off another magnificent display as Juventus maintained their unblemished record in Group H.
Knowing that a point would be enough to seal their progression to the next round of the competition, Juventus wasted little time and dominated the proceedings from the start. Dybala saw his low drive pushed off the right-hand post before finding the back of the net moments later, firing the snapshot into the ground soaring into the top corner from Leonardo Bonucci’s knockdown.
The hosts were flying and appeared to be on track to extend their lead, but their energy levels dropped for five minutes, and Zenit made the best of their little slip in focus. Despite their early domination, the Bianconeri were pulled back when Bonucci mistakenly hooked a header over his own goalkeeper from Vyacheslav Karavaev’s looping cross.
Dybala came close again and nearly put his fine curling effort into top bins after half-time. He subsequently doubled up from the spot-kick as Federico Chiesa was tripped inside the box by Claudinho. The Argentine botched his first spot-kick but drilled it into the back of the net on the retake.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) November 3, 2021
Weston McKennie then smacked the crossbar after a frantic move. A moment later, Chiesa showed great poise to drag the ball around the defender and unleashed a low strike across the goalkeeper into the other corner to put a stamp on the victory. Alvaro Morata snuck home to add the fourth before Sardar Azmoun scored in stoppage time for Zenit to bag a consolation.
Following a string of underwhelming performances under Massimiliano Allegri, it was vital for the under-fire Bianconeri boss to seal the progression with a statement victory. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Allegri’s men after a convincing win in Turin.
Wojciech Szczesny: 7/10
Szczesny was helpless to save Leonardo Bonucci’s looping header. Almost cost his side a goal in the first half with poor distribution. With Juventus leading 2-1, the Polish goalkeeper came up with two big stops in the second half from Claudinho and Malcom.
Danilo was at his best efficiency on the day. In the early exchanges, his calm chest down to Szczesny set the tone. There was practically nothing to criticise him for his defensive output while he provided a mini-spark while surging forwards. Danilo linked well with Federico Chiesa early on and was more active than in recent games.
Leonardo Bonucci: 6/10
Bonucci was unlucky to turn the header into his own net for Zenit’s equaliser in the first half but recovered brilliantly to enjoy a pleasant outing at the heart of the Juventus backline. His passing was generally good, and he seemed comfortable defensively despite Zenit’s threat on the break. He knocked the ball down well into the path of Dybala to crash it home.
Matthijs de Ligt: 6.5/10
The Dutchman was very solid in the first half. He handled the dynamic duo of Sardar Azmoun and Andrei Mostovoy very well and limited their chances with vital interceptions. He was all over the place for the second goal.
Alex Sandro: 6.5/10
Alex Sandro put up a far superior performance than in the past week. The Brazilian looked much more composed on the ball, and we finally witnessed a more combative version of the full-back in all phases of play. He was aggressive at tackling, occupied dangerous half-spaces in the final third, and even provided a decent enough cross.
Federico Chiesa: 9/10
📊| Chiesa stats vs Zenit:
• 86.2%➖Passes completed
• 1/1 Accurate long balls
• 9/13 Ground duels won
• 1/1 Aerial duels won
• 2/3 Accurate crosses
• 4/6 Dribbles completed
• 1/1 Tackles completed
• 3/7 Shots on the target
• 4 Fouls won
• 1 Penalty won
• 1 Goal pic.twitter.com/8KLaqcXtnG
— Nisrin (@NisrinJuve) November 2, 2021
Chiesa had a relatively quiet first half but sprung to life in what was a lively second half performance. He was lethal, earned the penalty and scored a terrific goal. His electrifying moves and pace perplexed Dejan Lovren. An overall mesmerising display from the talented Italian winger.
Weston McKennie: 8/10
McKennie brought a youthful exuberance to the midfield, which had been lacking recently. When Dybala retreated from his attacking position, McKennie was regularly the one who cycled into the opponent’s territory, and the American combined with his teammates effectively throughout.
These rotations and interchanges were an important aspect of Juventus’s slick attacking unit. Overall, McKennie produced a bright performance. At times in midfield, he was unstoppable. It was really unfortunate to hit the bar after such a Messi-esque run.
Manuel Locatelli: 7/10
Locatelli seemed revitalised. While he was not Juventus’s best player on the pitch, the Italian performed his job admirably at the base of midfield. He was continually trying to pick a hole in Zenit’s defensive line, and his daring switch to Chiesa resulted in the penalty. He kept things ticking over with a 95 per cent passing accuracy.
Federico Bernardeschi: 7/10
Bernandeschi was pretty decent, getting an assist while being a threat throughout the game. The Italian was highly efficient and performed the hybrid role, often left unfulfilled by Adrien Rabiot. and took advantage of good positions between the lines, particularly in the left half-space. He created a match-high seven key passes.
Paulo Dybala: 10/10
A masterclass performance from Paulo Dybala, who was truly at his best. A pure joy to watch, he opened the floodgates with a well-taken snapshot, added another from the penalty spot on the second attempt, and might have had more with one effort smashing off the post while the other sailed beyond it.
Paulo Dybala's game by numbers vs. Zenit St Petersburg:
93.6% pass accuracy
8 shots (most)
6 ball recoveries
5 duels won
4 take-ons attempted
4 take-ons completed (=most)
3 chances created
Juventus' main man. 😍 pic.twitter.com/XBJLCIwhXq
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 2, 2021
Zenit just could not cope with Dybala’s movement and unpredictability. The Argentine had the license of Allianz Stadium to roam freely and cause havoc. His delicate flick to set up Alvaro Morata was sublime.
Alvaro Morata: 7.5/10
Normally misfiring. Alvaro Morata was quite prolific at finishing on the day. Made a poor miss from Dybala’s cutback, but he finally broke his goal-scoring rut despite having a goal disallowed. The Spaniard was tenacious off the ball and deserved to get on the scoresheet with a left-footed attempt. Hopefully, this will spark a solid run of form.
Adrien Rabiot: 6/10
Usually a scapegoat when starting, Rabiot played his part in the fourth goal with his cross to Dybala.
Arthur came on the 80th minute for Manuel Locatelli and hardly kicked the ball as Zenit rallied late on.
Daniele Rugani: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Dejan Kulusevski: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.