Nantes 0-3 Juventus (1-4 agg): Angel Di Maria hat-trick fires Bianconeri into round of 16

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An Angel Di Maria hat-trick helped Juventus win for just the second time in their last 10 European matches to reach the last 16.

An Angel Di Maria hat-trick fired Juventus into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 as they secured a 4-1 aggregate triumph over 10-man Nantes on Thursday.

A 1-1 draw in Turin meant Juve faced an uphill task to progress at the loud Stade de la Beaujoire, but Di Maria’s spectacular opener steered them to victory.

Nantes’ task was made even tougher when Nicolas Pallois saw red for handling Di Maria’s inventive goal before the Juve winger slotted the resulting penalty into the top corner.

Di Maria capped a superb performance with a late header to seal Juve’s progress and Massimiliano Allegri’s men await Friday’s draw to see who stands between them and the quarter-finals.

Nantes started well but found themselves behind after five minutes when Di Maria’s stunning curler found the top left corner from outside.

Things turned from bad to worse for the visitors shortly after as Di Maria weaved his way into the box before backheeling towards goal, with the Argentina international’s effort hitting the arm of Pallois.

The referee awarded a penalty and sent the Nantes defender off before Di Maria slotted home.

Just before the break, the match should have been over, but Filip Kostic could only deflect the post from a tight angle.

Di Maria almost completed his hat-trick shortly after the restart, though Alban Lafont palmed his effort away from range.

Di Maria reached his heights 12 minutes into the game when his header from a tight angle went just over the line to send Juve through to the next round in style.

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