TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – Juventus secured their first points in the Champions League this season after Angel Di Maria got a hat-trick of assists in a 3-1 home win over Maccabi Haifa in Group H on Wednesday.
The game marked a return to form for Argentine Di Maria, who had struggled with injuries and suspension this season.
Dusan Vlahovic’s early header wide showed that Juve were determined not to lose four consecutive matches in the Champions League for the first time.
The Italian side took the lead after 35 minutes when Di Maria played a perfectly timed pass to Adrien Rabiot, who finished high into the net to the relief of coach Massimiliano Allegri and the fans in the stadium.
Di Maria then fed an unmarked Vlahovic from midfield in the 50th minute, and the Serbian doubled the lead when he calmly beat keeper Joshua Cohen.
Haifa reduced the deficit in the 75th minute when substitute Din David rounded Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny and put the ball in the open net after a through-ball from Tjaronn Chery.
Juve seemed shocked by the goal and only a great save from Szczesny in the 81st minute prevented the Israeli side from equalising.
Juve put the game to bed, however, when Di Maria’s corner in the 83rd minute was headed by Rabiot into the corner of the net.
Juventus remained third in the group, behind Benfica and Paris St Germain, who drew 1-1 and both have seven points. Juve will meet AC Milan in Serie A on Saturday before travelling to Israel to play Haifa again on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk,; Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)