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Paulo Dybala scored twice in the first half and Georgio Chiellini added a third after halftime as Juventus beat FC Barcelona, 3–0, on Tuesday night in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals at Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy.
The loss leaves Barça with no choice other than to mount a comeback in the return leg, set for next Wednesday night at Camp Nou.
For Juventus, the victory hands them a semblance of revenge after their first meeting with Barça since the 2015 final, which the Catalans won, 3–1, to cap an unprecedented second treble and deny Juve a treble of their own.
Barça knew going into the game La Vecchia Signiora, having conceded the fewest goals in the tournament among the eight teams remaining, boasted one of the top defensive units in the Old Continent, if not the world.
But Barça had their chances and, for want of a fortuitous bounce, or two, they were unable to chisel away with efficiency.
Juventus jumped out to a 1–0 lead after just six minutes of play, when Dybala took a short pass from Juan Cuadrado inside the area, shuffled to his left and buried a precision shot past goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen and inside the far post.
Barça’s first big opportunity came in the 20th, when Lionel Messi sent a brilliant through ball to Andrés Iniesta, giving him a tailor-made chance to draw Barça level. But as Iniesta angled in for a one-on-one with the ageless goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, his low flick was deftly swatted off course and trickled wide.
It was a fleeting reminder of Barça’s ineradicable knack for digging themselves out of the occasional hole, even if, on this sparkling play, it was not to be.
Moments later, in the 21st, Dybala notched Juve’s second of the night, one-timing a low cross from Mario Mandžukić past Gerard Piqué and Ter Stegen, who had been screened by his own defender.
After the break, in the 52nd, Iniesta had another enticing look, this time from the edge of the area, but fired just over the bar.
And, just like in the first half, the Bianconeri answered with a goal, when Chiellini headed in a 54th minute corner kick to make it 3–0.
But despite the deficit, and with precisely 30 minutes to play in the first leg, one couldn’t help but think — with the epic comeback at Camp Nou barely a month old — that the aggregate was still well within reach.
In the 68th, Messi sent Luis Suárez in all alone on Buffon. But while the Uruguayan’s shot slid under the keeper, it failed to find the net, rolling one ball-width beyond the far post.
Although the hardened defensive wall of Juventus held out in the final 20 minutes, the road to the semifinals must still pass through Camp Nou, which some might say is even harder.
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