Higuaín on target as Juventus beat Dinamo Zagreb
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Gonzalo Higuaín ended his goal drought in emphatic fashion as Juventus sealed top spot in Group H, though a quartet of teenagers ensured Dinamo Zagreb signed off on a positive note.
Article top media content
Second-half goals from Gonzalo Higuaín and Daniele Rugani earned Juventus a 2-0 victory over Dinamo Zagreb as the Italian side sealed top spot in Group H.
Higuaín had passed up a golden opportunity early in the game but would not be denied soon after half-time as he powered the ball home following a determined run from Mario Lemina.
With Dinamo pushing for their first goal and point of this UEFA Champions League campaign, Rugani clinched the victory for Juve 17 minutes from time following a Miralem Pjanić corner.
Key player: Gonzalo Higuaín
Higuaín was hard at work in and around the Dinamo penalty box from kick-off, a constant threat, and he finally got his reward with his first goal since 2 November. It all but secured Juventus's first group-stage pole position since 2012/13.
Nice problem to have
Paulo Dybala's return from injury gives Massimiliano Allegri a bit of a selection headache. Mario Mandžukić has played really well in Dybala's absence and is a Juventus Stadium crowd favourite for his commitment, fighting spirit and goals. Meanwhile, Higuaín ended a goal drought lasting over a month with his terrific strike. Can Juve's coach find a system that uses the three together?
Dinamo's bright young things
Dinamo boss Ivaylo Petev decided to give his youngsters another chance and he was rewarded. With nothing to lose, the Croatian champions fielded three 19-year-olds and Nikola Moro, 18, made his UEFA Champions League debut. They all got to test their skills on the biggest stage and, on the evidence of tonight, their future looks bright.
Paolo Menicucci, Juventus (@UEFAcomPaoloM)
Juventus did the job, rubber-stamping top spot in Group H after a good second-half performance. The Bianconeri struggled to create opportunities before the interval but Higuaín's strike calmed their nerves and the second period was much better. There were other positives besides: Rugani confirmed his progress in defence, his first UEFA Champions League goal icing the cake, and Dybala reappeared after his thigh problem. Juve can certainly look forward to the round of 16 with optimism.
Elvir Islamović, Dinamo (@UEFAcomElvirI)
The main task for Dinamo Zagreb in Turin was to leave a good impression and they partly managed it. Arguably they had nothing to lose, but how they would have wanted that first goal of the group stage. They conceded 15 and scored none, meaning it is the first time in their UEFA Champions League history that they haven't registered a goal. There is a hard work ahead for Petev, but at least he has some young talents to work with.