Paulo Dybala Scores Brace to Lead Juventus Past Lokomotiv Moscow in UCL

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2019

Juventus' Argentine forward Paulo Dybala celebrates after scoring his second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow on October 22, 2019 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)
MIGUEL MEDINA/Getty Images

Juventus earned their second win of the UEFA Champions League group stage, defeating Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy.

Paulo Dybala was the hero, scoring the equalizer in the 77th minute and then giving Juve the lead three minutes later.

With seven points through three matches, Juve remain level on points with Group D leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Bayer Leverkusen earlier in the day.

Over the summer, Dybala was a constant subject of transfer speculation as Juventus looked to shed some payroll. Proposed moves to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur both fell through, forcing him to make the most of a difficult situation.

Not coincidentally, the 25-year-old Argentine star has had a somewhat sluggish start to the season, scoring one goal and notching one assist through six Serie A appearances so far.

Tuesday could end up being a turning point for Dybala.

His talent was on display for Juve's opening goal as he created something out of nothing. The second didn't require quite the same skill as he hit home a rebound from a shot by Alex Sandro:

In the buildup to Tuesday's match, Juve manager Maurizio Sarri made it clear his squad had to respect Lokomotiv, who are level on points with Zenit St. Petersburg for first in the Russian Premier League.

"The trap is playing against a team who are having a great season," Sarri told reporters, per Football Italia. "They've put themselves in a good position in the Champions League, and that means this team are better than what everyone expected. We must have great respect for them and be very calm in the 90 minutes. It'll be difficult."

That assessment probably proved a little too true for Sarri's liking in the first half.

Lokomotiv completed just 79 passes to Juventus' 373 in the opening 45 minutes yet had the same number of shots on target (two), per UEFA.com.

Aleksei Miranchuk's goal was against the run of play and the result of Juve failing to properly corral a goal kick. Leonardo Bonucci allowed him to take possession and the attack was on.

In general, the sequence featured a series of errors across the defensive half from Juventus.

Sensing the need to do something different in the second half, Sarri waited only three minutes before subbing off Sami Khedira for Gonzalo Higuain to give Juventus a more traditional striker. The move also allowed Dybala and Cristiano Ronaldo to move out wider in order to possibly stretch the Lokomotiv defense.

Ultimately, Higuain's presence changed little for Juventus as they continued to get bogged down between the flanks.

One could argue Dybala bailed Sarri out and helped him avoid what would've been a disappointing result, but Sarri showed a lot of faith in Dybala in the first place by starting him alongside Ronaldo. 

Giving the nod to Higuain, who played 82 minutes in the 2-1 victory over Bologna, would've made sense given Lokomotiv's defensive approach. Instead, Sarri's gamble paid off and it could have a lasting impact for the rest of Juventus' Champions League campaign.

       

What's Next?

Juve and Lokomotiv meet again Nov. 6 in Moscow for Matchday 4 of the group stage.

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