Champions LeagueFootballNEWS

Dybala overtakes Platini, sends Juventus into Champions League knockout stage

Juventus join Bayern Munich in Champions League knockout stage

Paulo Dybala delivered a man of the match performance as he helped Juventus reach the UEFA Champions League knockout stage following a 4-2 win over Zenit St Petersburg at the Allianz Stadium in Turin.

Fresh from losing consecutive Serie A games against Sassuolo and Hellas Verona, Juventus knew they could not afford to drop points with Chelsea breathing down their neck following a 1-0 win over Malmo earlier in the day.

The Italian giants quickly made their intentions known and went in front after only 11 minutes through Dybala, who had seen a shot come back off the post earlier in the match. The Argentine forward struck a fierce shot that bounced off the ground and into the back of the net after a header from Matthijs De Ligt was deflected towards him.

Juventus continued to dominate proceedings but were guilty of profligacy in front of goal as Alvaro Morata missed a clear cut chance to double the home side’s advantage.

Zenit equalised after Leonardo Bonucci headed a cross from Vyacheslav Karavayev past Wojciech Szczesny in a bid to keep Sardar Azmoun from reaching the ball in the 26th minute.

Juventus restored their lead through Dybala in the 58th minute from the spot after Claudinho fouled the impressive Federico Chiesa inside the Zenit penalty area. It was Dybala’s 106th goal for Juventus and took him past Michel Platini’s tally of 104 goals for the club.

Chiesa added a third for Juventus after 73 minutes with a brilliant solo goal. Federico Bernardeschi played a pass into the feet of Chiesa before the winger moved through the gears, leaving the Zenit defense in tatters and firing a left-footed effort into the bottom corner of the net.

Juventus added a fourth through Morata in the 82nd minute as the Spanish striker finished from inside the box after he way played in by strike partner Dybala.

Zenit pulled another goal back late in the game, as the hardworking Azmoun finally got the goal he deserved. The Iranian striker got on the end of a pass from Artem Dzyuba in the 92nd minute before slotting home a finish beyond Szczesny to round off the scoring.

Juventus have now secured their place in the Champions League knockout stage after winning all four of their matches in the competition so far. They have joined Bayern Munich as the only teams to have qualified for the Champions League knockout stage yet.

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