Juventus easily defeated Nantes 3-0 with 10 men on the field on Thursday to advance to the round of 16 of the Europa League. Angel Di Maria scored a hat trick (4-1 on aggregate). Juventus only achieved a 1-1 draw with the French team in the first leg at home, but they were still hoping for a strong showing in the European tournament to salvage their terrible season after receiving a 15-point deduction from Serie A for financial misdeeds. Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Sport Italy, "I am delighted with the performance; it was not an easy game after the first-leg outcome, since the fans here is very passionate. "Winning the Europa League won't be simple just because we were eliminated from the Champions League."Although it isn't, we still have a responsibility to strive and win, just as we do in Serie A. After just five minutes, Juventus took the lead thanks to an exquisite curling goal from Argentina's Di Maria that found the top corner of the net. In 18 minutes, Nantes' night took a turn for the worst as defender Nicolas Pallois was dismissed for using his arm to prevent another goal from Di Maria.
The 35-year-old World Cup champion had little trouble making the subsequent penalty kick. In the last seconds of the first half, Juventus' Filip Kostic came close to scoring a third goal, but his attempt hit the inside of the post and the rebound fell into Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont's hands. Late in the second half, Juve's Alex Sandro attempted a diving header, but Lafont reacted fast to stop the shot with one hand. As Di Maria put in a glancing header 12 minutes from time, the ball barely crossed the goal line before being pulled away, giving him a hat trick. Since Filippo Inzaghi in 2000, this was Juve's first hat-trick in a UEFA tournament away from home. Allegri said of him, "He is a champion and distinct from the rest.""To him, everything comes effortlessly." The squad as a whole performs at a higher level under his leadership, and everyone is more at ease around him. Di Maria belongs to the group of true champions. On Friday, the draw for the round of 16 will take place.
Angel Di Maria Hat Trick Sends Juventus Into Europa League Round Of 16
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