Juventus 3-1 Maccabi Haifa: Rabiot brace lifts beleaguered Bianconeri
Adrien Rabiot's brace helped Juventus to a much-needed 3-1 win over Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League on Wednesday, boosting their hopes of progressing from Group H.
The Bianconeri approached the match requiring a victory after successive European losses against Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica, and they hit the front through Rabiot's powerful first-half finish.
Angel Di Maria starred with a hat-trick of assists, including a sublime pass to allow Dusan Vlahovic to double Juventus' lead shortly after the break.
Juventus came under pressure after Dean David raced through to reduce the arrears, but Rabiot's late header made the points safe and eased the pressure on Massimiliano Allegri.
Vlahovic twice went close as Juventus started strongly, seeing a well-placed strike turned away by Matt Cohen before dragging a poor effort wide from Filip Kostic's cut-back.
Maccabi posed a threat on the break throughout the first half, leading to jeers from a nervous home crowd, but the Bianconeri made the breakthrough when Rabiot darted onto Di Maria's pass to blast into the roof of the net 10 minutes before the break.
Di Maria was again involved when Juventus extended their lead five minutes after half-time, picking out Vlahovic with a sublime outside-of-the-foot pass before the Serb slotted into the bottom-right corner.
Omer Atzili struck the foot of the post as Maccabi refused to go down without a fight, before Vlahovic was denied a double by the offside flag after converting from yet another Di Maria pass.
David ensured a tense finish when he rounded Wojciech Szczesny to give Maccabi hope with 15 minutes remaining, but Rabiot had the final say, securing Juventus' win by nodding Di Maria's corner home eight minutes later.
What does it mean? Juventus stay alive in Group H
Juventus approached Wednesday's match having lost three successive Champions League games. Had the Bianconeri fallen to a fourth consecutive defeat for the first time in the competition's history, their hopes of progression – and Allegri himself – may not have recovered.
But the Bianconeri – led by their outstanding midfield duo Rabiot and Di Maria – shook off any first-half nerves to move within four points of PSG and Benfica.
Di Maria equals Messi with creative masterclass
Di Maria was limited to one substitute appearance in Juventus' first two European matches of the campaign after struggling with an injury, and the Bianconeri may be left to rue his early absence if they fail to escape Group H.
Since the start of the 2007-08 campaign – when Di Maria made his first Champions League appearance, no player has bettered his tally of 35 assists in the competition.
Only his legendary compatriot Lionel Messi has teed up as many Champions League goals during that spell.
Rabiot ends long wait
Rabiot looked every inch the natural goalscorer as his brace led Juventus to a vital win, but the France international had endured a long goal drought prior to Wednesday's double.
The 27-year-old's first-half effort ended his 50-game run without a goal in all competitions, and represented his first strike since he found the net against Bologna in May 2021.
Juventus will face a huge test of their Serie A credentials when they travel to Champions Milan on Saturday, while Maccabi Haifa go to Maccabi Bnei Raina on the same day.