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Juventus 2 Udinese 0: Dybala double sends Allegri’s men top

Paulo Dybala scored a brace as Juventus went top of Serie A with a routine 2-0 home win against Udinese on Sunday.

With leaders Napoli in action later in the day against Inter, Massimiliano Allegri’s men only needed a draw to claim top spot, even if only temporarily.

Dybala’s double secured an 11th straight Serie A win as Juve seek a seventh consecutive title, with the champions now in ominous form, having kept eight successive clean sheets in the league.

Juve’s latest victory was rarely in doubt at the Allianz Stadium after Dybala gave the Bianconeri the lead with his eighth free-kick goal for the club, a superb curling effort that gave Albano Bizzarri no chance.

Bizzarri denied Gonzalo Higuain from the penalty spot after Dybala was fouled, but the strikers combined to great effect in the 49th minute for Juve’s second to wrap up the points.

The pressure is now on Napoli in a lively two-horse title race, Maurizio Sarri’s side having stumbled to a 4-2 home loss against Roma last time out to open the door for Juve.

Wojciech Szczesny tipped away Ali Adnan’s free-kick in the third minute as Udinese started on top despite the visitors having lost their three previous Serie A matches.

At the other end Mattia De Sciglio’s low cross was just too pacy for Stefano Sturaro to turn home at the back post, but Juventus took the lead in the 20th minute.

Dybala hit a double at home against Udinese last season and, after Gabriele Angella was booked for bringing down Higuain on the edge of the box, he opened the scoring.

The Argentina international converted Juve’s 19th set-piece goal of the season, bending a delightful free-kick out of the reach of Bizzarri.

Angella was at fault again as Dybala proved too sharp in the penalty area, referee Piero Giacomelli pointing to the spot yet sparing the centre-back a second yellow.

Higuain stepped up but Bizzarri dived low to his right to keep out the striker’s effort, Giorgio Chiellini then narrowly heading over Dybala’s corner shortly before the break.

Dybala added Juve’s second three minutes after the restart, Higuain somewhat making amends with superb hold-up play to lay the ball off to his compatriot for a simple finish.

Sami Khedira scored his first league hat-trick in the reverse fixture’s 6-2 Juve win but the midfielder blazed over before substitute Blaise Matuidi arrived too late to turn in Higuain’s low centre.

Dybala could have had a hat-trick with 12 minutes to go, but the forward was denied by Bizzarri’s fine save at his near post after Douglas Costa opened Udinese up, he then hit the side-netting after a one-two with Mario Mandzukic.

Udinese coach Massimo Oddo – who played under Allegri in AC Milan’s 2010-11 Serie A title triumph – had no response against his old boss, Juve maintaining their perfect 2018 league record with ease.

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Sterling & Willian feature in new FIFA 18 Path to Glory team

EA Sports have announced a fresh batch of Path to Glory players available in FIFA 18 Ultimate Team, including the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Willian and Raheem Sterling.

EA released the initial group of players, featuring a mix of established stars like PSG’s Javier Pastore and young talent like Marcus Rashford at Manchester United, last year.

With the World Cup in Russia approaching, the squads comprise players looking to earn a spot in their national team squads ahead of the summer.

They are available in packs and on the transfer market, and feature boosted stats.

Higuain starts with a base rating of 92, a boost of two from his base of 90, while Raheem Sterling moves from a left winger to a central attacking midfielder, with a huge rating of 87.

Path to Glory players will see their stats further boosted based on the strength of their real-life performances.

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This will be reflected in the game when one of the players is included in a FIFA Team of the Week, Man of the Match, European Team of the Tournament, Hero or Record Breaker in-form release.

FIFA 18 Path to Glory

When that happens, the ratings on their Path to Glory card will be automatically updated in line with their latest in-form card.

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‘Big mistakes’ cost Tottenham against Juventus, laments Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino believes “big mistakes” were the reason his side exited the Champions League after a 2-1 home loss to Italian giants Juventus.

Spurs came from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg in Turin, but were given a taste of their own medicine at Wembley on Wednesday.

Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala scored in the space of three second-half minutes to turn the last-16 tie around after Son Heung-min put Pochettino’s men ahead before the break.

And the Tottenham boss felt slack defending proved the difference as last season’s runner-up Juve moved into the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

“In less than three minutes, we concede two goals,” Pochettino told BT Sport. “Two big mistakes and that’s why we’re out of the competition.

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“At the same time, in both games, we deserved more and were the better team.

“But in football you need to score goals, more than the opponent. That’s why we’re out.

“I think we played fantastic football. Until we conceded the first goal, we were the better team.

“Of course, we’re very disappointed but it’s part of our growing.”

Pochettino felt Spurs played well enough over the two legs to earn a place in the quarter-finals, although he acknowledged Juve were clinical.

“We created a lot of chances,” Pochettino added. “If you compare the stats, it’s clear Tottenham deserved much more.

“I think they only arrived at our goal two or three times. But they have quality and if you make a mistake, they can score.

“In the group stage, we played [Borussia] Dortmund and Real Madrid, and then against Juventus, three massive teams.

“It was tough but a fantastic experience for us. I’m disappointed for our players and our fans but it’s about the future.”

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‘English teams always leave gaps’ – Higuain knew Juventus would get best of Tottenham

Gonzalo Higuain says Juventus knew Tottenham’s defensive failings would offer them opportunities as the Serie A title-holders knocked Mauricio Pochettino’s side out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Juve gave up a 2-0 lead and missed a penalty to draw 2-2 at home to the English club in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie, but they responded effectively at Wembley, where goals from Higuain and Paulo Dybala in the space of three second-half minutes saw them win 2-1 to earn a 4-3 aggregate victory and seal a place in the quarter-finals.

According to Higuain, the Italian giants were ready to pounce on the hosts’ mistakes, which they knew would occur eventually.

“It was a very difficult match against a great side like Tottenham, who always give their best and are aggressive, but we know English teams always leave gaps at the back and would give us opportunities,” he told Mediaset Premium.

“We had to make the most of them and we did. I’m very happy with this win, as a comeback at Wembley is not easy.

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“I am proud of this team and of the medical staff, who worked so hard to get me in shape for this game.”

Spurs fullback Kieran Trippier, meanwhile, acknowledged the tactics of Juventus stifled the hosts in north London.

“We had a lot of chances in the first half and put in a great performance. It’s a difficult one to take,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Juventus changed their formation and they had a lot of the ball, we just [needed] to settle down a little bit.

“The lads are gutted because of the way we started the game. It’s a tough one to take.

“We wanted to come out fast in the second half, but they killed the tempo out of the game.”

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Allegri: Juventus qualification was deserved

Massimiliano Allegri felt the patience shown by Juventus was the key reason behind his side’s Champions League win at Tottenham.

The Serie A champions came from behind to seal a 2-1 victory at Wembley on Wednesday, moving into the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

Argentina internationals Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala struck in the space of three second-half minutes to turn the tie around.

And Allegri said Juventus timed their goals perfectly as last season’s runners-up moved into the last eight of the Champions League.

“The lads and club deserve compliments for what they’ve been doing over the last few years,” Allegri told Mediaset Premium.

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“It was a prestigious victory at a stadium like Wembley.

“We waited for the right time, showed patience and won the game. Over the two legs, I think our qualification was deserved.

“We struggled in the first half, above all by losing the ball, and they were deadly in those situations.

“We kept splitting the team in two with misplaced passes, but after the break were more balanced, compact and kept it tight.

“The lads achieved something impressive.”

Higuain returned from two games out with an ankle knock, while Dybala started after missing the first leg with a hamstring problem.

But although the duo came up trumps with the goals, Allegri believes introducing Kwadwo Asamoah and Stephan Lichtsteiner shortly before the strikes was a pivotal moment.

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“I made changes because we needed players with different characteristics, as Asamoah is extraordinary in his passing and has been really underestimated throughout his career,” Allegri added.

“Lichtsteiner did well working with [Sami] Khedira. We were tired on the flanks and needed some more pace and width. Tottenham hit the post in the final minute, but Harry Kane was offside.

“Higuain had been out for two weeks, Dybala only really returned on Saturday, so we need to get the others back to full fitness. Now we have a couple of games coming up in Serie A that will be crucial.”

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