Europe: Europa League
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Á. Di María (53)
By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Freiburg second best in narrow defeat to Juventus

A meeting with European giants Juventus lay in wait for the arrival of Freiburg in Turin tonight. Christian Streich opted to stick with an unchanged side that faced Gladbach last weekend.

Having just overcome tonsilitis, Michael Gregoritsch could only make the bench. Ritsu Doan did similar, while Woo-Yeong Jeong missed to trip to Italy through illness.

The strength and quality possessed by the Italian side was clear to see in the end. Allegri’s team dominated large parts of the action to take a 1-0 lead into the second-leg in Breisgau.
The Breisgau-elf did well to absorb early Juventus pressure, of which was most notable down the right flank manned by Angel Di Maria. Mark Flekken was alive to the danger on two occasions inside the opening 20 minutes – The first, a fantastic save with his right boot to deny Rabiot from an acute angle, while batting away a Cuadrado freekick minutes later.

Juventus’ continued dominance would be mainstay throughout the half. Flekken was given a big scare on 31 minutes. Di Maria’s lethal delivery from a corner sailed over the head of the Dutch shot stopper who misjudged his punch. Fortunately, Rabiot and Bremer were caught on their heels at the back post. Flekken was required to repel Cuadrado again before the half-time whistle sounded. Freiburg without a single shot on goal at this point.

Juve remained firmly in the driving seat after the restart. The breakthrough finally came in the 53rd minute. Former Eintracht Frankfurt winger Filip Kostic crossed for Di Maria. The World Cup winning Argentine gave Flekken no chance with a powerful header from 6-yards out. With their first shot of the night, Freiburg appeared to draw level through Hoeler ten minutes later. Unfortunately, a VAR review cut short celebrations as Ginter was perceived to have handled the ball.

Freiburg began to grow in confidence as the last 15 minutes came about. A dangerous freekick from Grifo which flew over Szczesny’s crossbar, while crosses came in from either wing in the subsequent attacks. While Gregoritsch was fit enough to make an appearance off the bench, the Austrian couldn’t influence the result. Despite the loss, Freiburg will be reasonably content with having to chase a one-goal deficit going into the rematch Thursday week.

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