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Europa League

Di Maria hat-trick sends Juventus into last 16

February 25, 2023 00:00:00

Juventus' Argentine forward Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League round of 32, second leg football match between FC Nantes and Juventus FC, at The Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes on Friday — AFP

NANTES, France, Feb 24 (Reuters): Angel Di Maria scored a hat-trick as Juventus eased to a 3-0 win at 10-man Nantes on Thursday to reach the Europa League round of 16 4-1 on aggregate.

Juventus only managed a 1-1 draw against the French side in the home leg as they eyed a long run in the European competition to boost a miserable campaign in which they have been deducted 15 Serie A points for financial irregularities.

"I am happy with the performance, it was not an easy game after the first-leg result, as the crowd here is very passionate," Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri told Sky Sport Italia.

"Just because we were eliminated from the Champions League does not mean it will be easy to win the Europa League. It isn't, but we have the duty to try and go all the way, just as we do in Serie A."

Argentine Di Maria put Juventus ahead after five minutes with a delightful curling strike from the edge of the box into the top corner.

The evening got worse for Nantes after 18 minutes when defender Nicolas Pallois was sent off when he used his arm to stop a another goal from Di Maria. The 35-year-old Di Maria had no problem converting the resulting penalty.

Filip Kostic was close to getting a third for Juventus in first-half stoppage time, but his shot hit the inside of the post and the rebound landed in the hands of Nantes keeper Alban Lafont.

Juve's Alex Sandro sent in a diving header late in the second half but Lafont was down quickly to make an impressive one-handed save.

Di Maria completed his treble 12 minutes from time when he sent in a glancing header and the ball just crossed the line before being pushed away.

It was Juve's first hat-trick in a UEFA competition away from home since Filippo Inzaghi in 2000.

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