Paulo Dybala scored twice as Juventus took charge of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Barcelona courtesy of a commanding home-leg display in Turin.
The Argentine forward curled home both of his goals before the break, the first from an angle inside the box and the second from a central position on the edge.
Juve turned a dominant lead into one that should see them go on and win the tie when Giorgio Chiellini showed strength and guile to steer home a header from a corner.
For the second European round running, Barca – who were as defensively suspect as they were in losing 4-0 to Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 tie – must come back from a heavy away defeat to progress.
Home comfort for Juventus
The last time these two sides met in the Champions League was in the 2015 final, when Barcelona secured the trophy courtesy of a 3-1 win.
The Italians are a much-changed side, with only goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Leonardo Bonucci starting both the game in Berlin and Tuesday’s in Turin, but they played like a side with a score to settle.
The opening 20 minutes were a lesson in high-pressing, aggressive play that created a clear headed opening for Gonzalo Higuain to spurn before paying off through Dybala’s two strikes.
The remaining 70 minutes saw Juve retain a high work-rate but with the luxury of strategically selecting their moments to counter attack.
This approach twice set up Higuain for shots that were saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen before more lax defending – this time from Javier Mascherano, who had been moved to centre-back from midfield at half-time – allowed Chiellini to head home from a corner.
The win means Juve, who have won their last 32 Serie A home games, are now undefeated in 18 European games in Turin.
With the second-best defence of any side in Europe’s top-five leagues and having gone 441 Champions League minutes without conceding, the Italians are well-equipped to avoid wilting under second-leg pressure in Spain.
More away woe for fading Barca
Barcelona’s heroics in the return leg against PSG papered over the cracks of what was a truly terrible first-leg display in the French capital.
After another heavy away defeat – their third in four Champions League games on the road and a second in succession after Saturday’s La Liga loss at Malaga – there is no escaping the feeling that this is a team in decline.
They are often shambolic at the back, with Samuel Umtiti and Jeremy Mathieu error-prone and Mascherano a fading force.
Andres Iniesta is a class act in midfield and the attacking unit of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is unrivalled in Europe, but only the talismanic Messi proved a threat in Turin.
He had a goal rightly ruled out for offside, curled a shot just past the post and laid on a defence-splitting pass to send Iniesta clear only to see Buffon superbly claw his shot past the post.
Buffon’s instinctive save not only denied Barcelona a vital away goal, but came just 76 seconds before Dybala made it 2-0.
Man of the match – Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
Allegri leads Juve to record run – the stats you need to know
- Juventus are unbeaten in their last 18 Champions League home games (W11 D7 L0), their longest ever run without a defeat in the competition on home soil. Their last home defeat in the competition was versus Bayern Munich in April 2013 (0-2).
- Juventus have now won 16 successive home matches in all competitions and are unbeaten in 48 games there (W42 D6 L0). Their last home defeat in all comps came against Udinese in August 2015.
- Massimiliano Allegri has equalled Juventus’ longest winning streak in the Champions League (five games – previously done by Fabio Capello in 2004/05 and Antonio Conte in 2012/13).
- Dybala’s first two goals in 2016-17 for Juventus were scored away from home, but his 14 goals since then have all been scored at the Juventus Stadium.
- Giorgio Chiellini’s goal was only his second strike in 53 Champions League appearances and his first since October 2009 in the competition.
- Barcelona have lost four of their last five Champions League away games in the knock-out stages (W1 D0 L4), conceding 12 goals in these games.
- Barcelona have conceded at least three goals in consecutive Champions League away games for the first time since October 2000.