Juventus defeated 10-man Nantes on Thursday, 4-1 on aggregate, and advanced to the round of 16 of the Europa League thanks to a hat-trick from Angel Di Maria.
Juve faced a difficult assignment to advance at a boisterous Stadium de la Beaujoire after a 1-1 draw in Turin, but Di Maria’s magnificent opening placed them on the road to triumph.
Nicolas Pallois was sent off for touching Angel Di Maria’s deft goal-bound pass, and the Juve winger smashed the ensuing penalty into the top corner, making Nantes’ task more difficult.
The late header from Di Maria sealed Juve’s advancement, and Massimiliano Allegri’s team now awaits Friday’s draw to find out who stands in their way of the quarterfinals.
After five minutes, Nantes, who had a promising start, fell behind when Di Maria’s exquisite curler from outside the area reached the top left corner.
Juventus vs nantes Football Match Highlights 23rd February 2023
Shortly later, the hosts’ situation got even worse as Di Maria dribbled into the box and then backedheeled into goal, his attempt hitting Pallois in the arm.
Prior to Di Maria converting the penalty kick, the referee called for a penalty and dismissed the Nantes defender. Just before halftime, Filip Kostic should have put the game away, but his tight-angle shot just went off the post.
Just after the break, Di Maria came close to scoring his third goal, but Alban Lafont palmed his attempt from distance away.
But, Di Maria did complete his hat trick with 12 minutes remaining as his tight-angle header sent Juve through to the next round in style.
What does it mean, Bianconeri cruise through
Juve advanced from a potentially difficult tie and maintained their chances of earning European honours despite only winning one of their six group-stage Champions League games, which saw them descend into the Europa League.
While Pallois’ dismissal clearly made their job easier, Allegri’s team earned every bit of their victory as they controlled 60.7 percent of the ball, had 12 shots on goal to Nantes’ four, and scored 3.3 xG (expected goals) to Nantes’ 0.4.
Di Maria the difference
Nantes had the advantage early on, but Di Maria turned the tide of the contest with a stunning performance to advance his club.
In an excellent effort, he left the field in the 82nd minute having scored three goals from just 1.49 xG, finishing first on his side in completed dribbles (two), and second among his teammates in opportunities created (two).
Pallois red card changes the game
Early on, Nantes was the more promising of the two teams, but the severe decision of the referee to dismiss Pallois for the penalty incident turned the game decisively in Juve’s favour.
Pallois had little knowledge of his hand’s role in blocking Di Maria’s shot from so close range, and his departure made it much less likely that Nantes would mount a comeback.