TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, surprisingly preferred to Gonzalo Higuain, scored twice in three minutes late in the game as the Turin side came from behind to beat a defiant Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Despite enjoying 69 percent of possession over the 90 minutes, Juventus trailed to Aleksei Miranchuk’s first-half goal and appeared to be heading for their first defeat under coach Maurizio Sarri until Paulo Dybala curled in an exquisite goal in the 77th minute.
The Argentine, who has started only five of Juve’s 11 matches this season, then pounced to drive home a rebound and give his side a 2-1 win which kept them level with Atletico Madrid on seven points at the top of the Group D.
“I’m very happy, I really needed two goals like this,” said Dybala. “It was a difficult game but tonight you could really see the level of experience of our team. We always remained calm until we finally scored.”
Sarri sprung a couple of surprises with his lineup as he chose Dybala to partner Cristiano Ronaldo in attack and fielded Rodrigo Betancur in a new position behind the attacking duo.
However, the Serie A leaders produced a lacklustre first half and rarely looked like piercing injury-ravaged Lokomotiv’s blanket defence.
Instead, Lokomotiv, whose 72-year-old coach Yuri Semin is in his fourth stint at the club and was also in charge when they met Juventus in the 1993/94 UEFA Cup, went ahead when Portugal midfielder Joao Mario’s shot was saved by Wojciech Szczesny and Miranchuk followed up to score.
Juventus livened up after Higuain replaced Sami Khedira early in the second half.
Dybala volleyed over from one chance and then his fellow Argentine Higuain produced a delightful piece of control before driving his shot just past the post.
Dybala finally levelled in the 77th minute when he exchanged passes with Juan Cuadrado — who minutes earlier had been lucky to escape with a yellow card for a wild, lunging tackle on Joao Mario — and curled his shot past Guilherme from 25 metres.
Shortly afterwards, Alex Sandro’s fierce long-range drive was parried by Guilherme and the ball landed at the feet of Dybala who drilled it into the net for the winner.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Clare Lovell)