A last-gasp winner sent the Old Lady into the competition’s last 16, but their coach wasn’t impressed with one of his stars
Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo admitted that Paulo Dybala did not have his best game in his side’s 2-1 win over Ferencvaros on Tuesday.
Dybala lasted just 62 minutes in the game and went off with the match level, only for Alvaro Morata to come on in his place and score a stoppage-time winner.
Pirlo’s team also looked suspect at the back, and the Juve coach acknowledged it was far from a vintage display.
“We had intended to start with a different attitude, but we know there can be difficulties in games that seem on paper to be simple. We had to chase the game,” Pirlo told Sky Italia.
“I expected more from the players, but Ferencvaros clammed up, we had to try to move the ball back and forth more quickly to spread them. We moved it too slowly, which made it easier for them to defend.”
Pirlo also singled out Arthur – a recent acquisition from Barca – and Dybala as having put in particularly frustrating displays.
Arthur attempted 98 passes, though Pirlo stated: “He got a bit pig-headed today keeping hold of the ball and trying to find more direct through balls when he should’ve spread it wide and tried to spread the Ferencvaros defence.
“He should have opened up the game more to create one-on-one situations. If the ball moved too slowly, it allowed them to get back into position.”
Dybala, meanwhile, had one good opportunity early on, but was replaced by Morata with just over an hour gone.
“Dybala didn’t do that well,” said Pirlo. “He was injured and had to take antibiotics for weeks, so it’s natural he needs time to get back into shape.
“He does need to go beyond his limits in training to rediscover his form.”
Morata scored his fifth Champions League goal of the season with his stoppage-time header – which was flapped at by Denes Dibusz – sealing the win and earning Juve’s progression to the last 16 with two Group G games to spare.
Morata believes he is a “more complete player” since his return to Juventus, as he matched his best goals tally in a Champions League campaign.
In 2014-15, the forward scored five goals – his best haul in the competition – as Juve reached the Champions League final, where they were beaten by Barcelona.
After equalling that record with just four games gone, Morata, who also hit the post after coming on as a substitute in Turin, claimed he has become a far better all-round forward.
“When I was 22, I paid attention only when the ball came near me, but now I remain more focused and every ball can be decisive.
“I had another chance today that hit the upright. I was fortunate on the goal, unlucky on the earlier chance, so it all balances out.”
Morata was not the only Juve player to equal a record against Ferencvaros, with Cristiano Ronaldo, who drilled in a 35th-minute equaliser to cancel out Myrto Uzuni’s opener, drawing level with Lionel Messi on 70 home goals in the Champions League.
However, Juve were made to work for their victory, and though they managed 19 attempts, only seven were on target, with Dibusz making a string of impressive saves.