Ángel Di María showed Juventus just what it’s been missing — and what it will be without again this weekend.
Di María provided three assists to help Juventus pick up its first Champions League points of the season with a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday.
After goals from Adrien Rabiot and Dušan Vlahović, Maccabi substitute Din David scored in the 75th minute to ensure a tense finale but Rabiot all but sealed the result seven minutes from time.
It was an inspired performance from Di María, who recently returned from injury, and he will be sorely missed this weekend as he is suspended for the trip to defending champion AC Milan.
Juventus, which lost its opening two Champions League matches for the first time, moved four points behind Benfica and Paris Saint-Germain, which drew 1-1 in the other Group H match.
Maccabi remained on zero points.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri was under pressure after a poor start to the season but there had been positive signs at the weekend in a 3-0 victory over Bologna, which was only the Bianconeri’s third win of the campaign.
Juve’s injury problems were easing while Maccabi was without several of its Jewish players in the starting lineup as they had been fasting because of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.
Juventus struggled to break down a resolute Maccabi defense but, just as the whistles and jeers were raining down from its own fans, it took the lead 10 minutes before halftime as Rabiot received a throughball from Di María and smashed it into the roof of the net.
Di María sent another great ball through five minutes after the break to release Vlahović, who bore down one-on-one with the goalkeeper before slotting into the bottom right corner.
Maccabi coach Barak Bakhar brought on two first-team regulars on the hour mark in Omer Atzili and Dolev Haziza and Atzili almost got his side back in it immediately but saw Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny turn his effort onto the post.
Moments later, Di María came close to getting his hat trick of assists with another fantastic ball for Vlahović but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Another Maccabi substitute did halve the deficit, just two minutes after coming off the bench, as David ran onto a pass and rounded Szczęsny — who had come way out of the area — before firing into the empty net.
Atzili hit the post with a free kick as Maccabi threatened to equalize before Rabiot headed home Di María’s corner.