TURIN, Italy (AP)Angel Di Maria showed Juventus just what it’s been missing – and what it will be without again this weekend.
Di Maria provided three assists to help Juventus pick up its first Champions League points of the season with a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday.
After goals from Adrien Rabiot and Dusan Vlahovic, Maccabi substitute Din David scored in the 75th minute to ensure a tense finale but Rabiot all but sealed the result seven minutes from time.
”I try to do my job, it’s what makes me happy, creating assists to score goals,” Di Maria said.
It was an inspired performance from Di Maria, who recently returned from injury, and he will be sorely missed this weekend as he is suspended for the trip to defending champion AC Milan after being sent off in the defeat to Monza before the international break.
”I’m very disappointed not to be able to play against Milan,” Di Maria said. ”But I deserved it for the mistake I made.”
Juventus, which lost its opening two Champions League matches for the first time, moved four points behind Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain, which drew 1-1 in the other Group H match.
”Di Maria was really good with his passes, he is an extraordinary player, it was his first game in quite a while and he did really well,” Allegri said.
”Now we have to stay silent, get our heads down and work hard because we are behind in both Serie A and the Champions League. We have to win in Israel and then go and play our game in Lisbon and try our utmost to win.”
Maccabi remained on zero points.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was under pressure after a poor start to the season but there had been positive signs at the weekend in a 3-0 victory over Bologna, which was only the Bianconeri’s third win of the campaign.
Juve’s injury problems were easing while Maccabi was without several of its Jewish players in the starting lineup as they had been fasting because of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.
Juventus struggled to break down a resolute Maccabi defense but, just as the whistles and jeers were raining down from its own fans, it took the lead 10 minutes before halftime as Rabiot received a throughball from Di Maria and smashed it into the roof of the net.
Di Maria sent another great ball through five minutes after the break to release Vlahovic, who bore down one-on-one with the goalkeeper before slotting into the bottom right corner.
”He gets the ball down the field very well and then Vlahovic is devastating in those situations,” Allegri said.
Maccabi coach Barak Bakhar brought on two first-team regulars on the hour mark in Omer Atzili and Dolev Haziza and Atzili almost got his side back in it immediately but saw Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny turn his effort onto the post.
Moments later, Di Maria came close to getting his hat trick of assists with another fantastic ball for Vlahovic but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Another Maccabi substitute did halve the deficit, just two minutes after coming off the bench, as David ran onto a pass and rounded Szczesny – who had come way out of the area – before firing into the empty net.
Atzili hit the post with a free kick as Maccabi threatened to equalize before Rabiot headed home Di Maria’s corner.
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