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Juventus 1-0 Freiburg: Di Maria strikes as Bianconeri draw first blood
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Angel Di Maria was the hero at the Allianz Stadium
Angel Di Maria was the hero at the Allianz Stadium

Angel Di Maria scored the only goal of the game as Juventus beat Freiburg in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 encounter.

Juve registered a whopping 20 shots at the Allianz Stadium, where Di Maria's second-half header Bianconeri gave them a slender lead in the tie.

The Argentina international continued to shine in this competition, having netted a hat-trick against Nantes in the previous round.

Freiburg, who saw their five-match unbeaten streak halted, must come from behind when the teams recommence battle in Germany next week.

Massimiliano Allegri's decision to drop Paul Pogba from the squad for disciplinary reasons dominated the build-up to what was Juve's first Europa League showdown against German opposition since they faced Borussia Dortmund in the 1994-95 semi-finals.

Pogba's fellow France international Adrien Rabiot almost opened the scoring when he drew smart reflexes out of Mark Flekken, who also kept out Juan Cuadrado's free-kick.

Bremer then somehow failed to find an open goal in the 31st minute, the defender heading over Di Maria's deep corner from just two yards out, while Cuadrado stung Flekken's palms once more before the break.

Juve eventually made the breakthrough eight minutes into the second half, when Di Maria powered home a header from Filip Kostic's centre.

Freiburg thought they had responded in the 62nd minute but, following a consultation with the VAR, Lucas Holer's wonderful volley was ruled out as Matthias Ginter handled in the build-up.

Vincenzo Grifo was then marginally off target with a free-kick that represented the visitors' only recorded attempt on goal, as the Serie A side saw out a narrow victory.

What does it mean? Advantage Juve

Juve will take a slender single-goal advantage to Germany next week, but will be disappointed not to be carrying a greater lead.

Freiburg will know they must improve to stand any chance of progressing. The Bundesliga side enjoyed more possession (51.8 per cent), but could only muster a single attempt on goal.

Di Maria delivers again

Di Maria’s winner means he has now been directly involved in seven goals in six European appearances — scoring four and assisting three.

The Argentina international also registered a game-high six key passes, while no Juventus player delivered more crosses (eight), had more touches (77) or was involved in more duels (27).

Grifo attempts to rally Freiburg

Only Niklas Fullkrug (14) has scored more goals than Grifo (12) in the Bundesliga this season, with the Freiburg striker also netting twice in this competition.

Although he would have liked to have produced more, the Italy international did register his side’s only shot on goal with an ambitious free-kick, while none of his team-mates recorded more touches (93) or passes (78).

What’s next?

Both teams return to domestic action before facing off in the second leg next Thursday. Juventus look to return to winning ways in Serie A when they host Sampdoria on Sunday, with Freiburg welcoming Hoffenheim in Bundesliga on the same day.


Europa LeagueFreiburgJuventus
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